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De Allende’s ‘Critical Role’ Against Sharks

Damian de Allende Stormers training 2019 1 1024x576 - De Allende’s ‘Critical Role’ Against Sharks

The Sharks are all about physical dominance when it comes to their game plan and Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck believes his team his well-suited to deal with that.

Matches between the two coastal teams have been brutal over years and Saturday’s Round 18 encounter will be no different with a play-off spot on the line for both teams.

Both teams have been hit with injuries, but it seems the Stormers have come off worse over the last few weeks losing the likes of Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Those are some big names and they bring a lot in terms of physicality, which is needed in a big South African derby.

However, the Stormers have Damian De Allende back after his rest week and Fleck his banking on his presence in the midfield to counter the Sharks’ brutes.

“Damian [de Allende] is massive for us – he is another key player,” Fleck told reporters ahead of Saturday’s match.

“I felt that he has been outstanding this season and especially in the games against the Crusaders and the Highlanders.

“He was missed against the Sunwolves in terms of just giving us some direction and a bit of width to our game and I feel that’s where he has done really well this year. He has really taken control and he has been that link man between the outside backs and what is happening up front.

“He gets us going forward when required, but his kicking game has come along as well and once or twice he has put some guys into space, so we are really happy he is back.

“I felt that Dan Kriel played well last week, but just that experience of having Damian back can just give that confidence to the outside guys and give us a bit of momentum.

“Defensively he is incredibly strong and with the way the Sharks like to play by attacking the vacuum quite effectively with [Andre] Esterhuizen and their big forwards, he [De Allende] is going to play a critical role in stopping that.”

The Stormers will also be without influential scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies this week, but Fleck does not think the 23-year-old’s absence will impact his team too much.

“Jano [Vermaak] was pretty good last weekend [against the Sunwolves] and Justin [Phillips] has been with us for most of the season sitting on the bench so he understands the way we want to play and how we go about things.

“Herschel is a loss, but I am pretty happy with the next two guys to come up to fill the spot,” Fleck added.

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