South Africa centre Damian de Allende considers himself to be ‘lucky’ to still be able to play rugby after a firepit explosion at Munster last month.
De Allende was enjoying time with his Munster teammates when petrol was poured onto a dying fire. This caused an ignition of flames which left all de Allende, RG Snyman, Mike Haley and CJ Stander all requiring medical treatment.
Snyman underwent a skin graft earlier this month after he and de Allende sustained burns to their hands, face and legs, with the lock unlikely to play a part in the Lions Test series.
“I think RG got the worst of it,” said De Allende, who will start alongside Lukhanyo Am on Saturday.
“He has gone through a lot at the moment, I got lucky and I am just glad it wasn’t worse. I can also say I am just glad I got to play rugby again.
“After it happened I did go into a bit of shock and I was in hospital on morphine and it was tough.
“When it wore off the pain started to kick in and it really struck me how bad it was and how much worse it could have been and how lucky I had been.
“I am very grateful I got through some good game minutes over the last week. It was tough to play two games in a week, I haven’t done that for quite a long time but it was good.”
De Allende featured for South Africa A in the warm-up match against the Lions last week, and is one of 21 of the Rugby World Cup-winning squad from 2019 named in Jacques Nienaber’s 23-man party to face the tourists.
2009 Springbok captain John Smith recently expressed to The Rugby Paper his concerns over the team being ready for Test level rugby, but that is something De Allende says the Boks have taken in their stride given the familiarity within the squad,
“Obviously we haven’t played together since the World Cup, but we know our relationships on the field and off the field are still very good,” he said.
“And not just the guys who are playing this weekend or the guys that are starting on the bench, but the guys that are missing out as well.
“It has been great that there is still a bit of consistency in the squad and I think that makes a massive difference. It almost allows us to be ourselves and fit in naturally again.”