De Jongh backs De Allende to succeed
Western Province centre Juan de Jongh is confident his new midfield partner Damian de Allende will give a good account of himself in Saturday's Currie Cup Final against the Sharks in Durban.
De Jongh has been a regular in the number 13 jersey for the Cape Town outfit since returning from Springbok duty in the Rugby Championship.
He will play with his third inside centre in as many weeks after Jean de Villiers and Marcel Brache lined up next to him in the victories against the Free State Cheetahs and Golden Lions recently.
And he put to bed fears that 20-year-old De Allende's inexperience might prove to be a liability on Saturday.
"I'm sure Damian will do well and I'm comfortable having him on my inside," said De Jongh.
"He's a big unit who has proven already that he can play at this level.
"I have spoken to him about Saturday's game and told him it's important that he backs himself."
As the senior player in the partnership De Jongh is aware that he has an important role to play in guiding De Allende.
"I know how it is to be the junior player in a centre partnership from playing with Jean de Villiers and his experience and guidance helped me a lot," he added.
"I will look to fulfill a similar role with Damian and will not put too much pressure on him."
WP coach Allister Coetzee said De Allende's strength is his physicality which gave him the edge over Brache when he selected his starting XV.
"Brache will be doing his job off the bench," he explained.
"We will probably be needing his (greater) experience towards the end. But we got to front up physically and I believe Damian is the right choice.
"He's quite a good ball carrier.
"He's got explosive pace, is big and tall and has good core skills. He's also a good defender and whenever he's played for us he's made a massive impression.
"Even last week (in the semi-final win over the Lions) it was telling."
After defeats to the Sharks in the 2010 final and earlier this year in the Super Rugby semi-final De Jongh said the team has learnt valuable lessons from those results.
"We won't focus too much on the Sharks," he revealed.
"It's important for us to focus on our own game-plan. Everybody knows Western Province is an attacking unit and it's vital for us to use our opportunities."