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Springbok Damian de Allende says he will leave Munster with a “big smile” on his face after an enjoyable time at the club.
The centre will be leaving Munster at the end of the season, with former All Black Malakai Feketoa coming in as his replacement as part of a big shuffle at the club for next season.
Thomond Park a highlight
Reflecting on his time with Munster, de Allende singled out “exceptional” Thomond Park as a highlight during his time in Limerick.
“It was tough when I couldn’t enjoy Ireland properly when I first got here but as the weeks have gone on it’s been a lot better,” de Allende told the Irish Times.
“It’s been incredible to play in a full Thomond Park, it was exceptional. I wish I could have played in front of a crowd in a lot more events but that’s just the way life is at the moment.
“Whatever happens happens, but I will leave here with a big smile on my face with lots of happy memories that are made here in Munster.”
The World Cup winner was impressed with the turnout of Munster fans, particularly during away games, and enjoyed the opportunities to engage with people after the game.
“I’ve never played at a club where I’ve gone to an away game and there’s been more supporters from the away team. When we played against Wasps and Exeter it felt like there were more Munster fans there than the home fans, so for me that was incredible.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen something like that and to interact with the fans after those games is nice, especially here at Thomond Park, to walk along the field and take pictures with fans at Thomond Park.”
Munster has endured tricky spells this season where results have not gone their way, and the 30-year-old believes sticking together and taking accountability was crucial for the team.
“It could be a bit of everything. I think when things get tough, especially in a team environment, it can be quite easy to point fingers and when things got tough we kept it in the group and we took accountability of it.
“The toughness started just before we went to South Africa when we lost a game against Connacht, which was a very tough game, and it just led to a bit of frustration. But when frustration does creep into a team and you sort it out in the group and you don’t let that frustration get out of the group, it helps a lot.
“We’ve spoken about it numerous times and the understanding of the way we speak about it has helped a lot as well. It’s not blaming each other, each making each other better and I think us as a group now understand that.
“We’ve learned a lot and have a lot to look forward to, but it has been incredible the way guys have moved on from that frustration. Every time there is frustration we just talk about it and get it out of the way. We don’t let it linger anymore.”
This weekend, Munster plays Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium in the Champions Cup as Thomond Park will host an Ed Sheeran concert, and de Allende is excited about the big occasion.
“It was exciting to play them last year but I think this is a whole different ball game with over 30,000 tickets being sold already at the Aviva Stadium.
“I think the atmosphere on Saturday is going to be incredible but I think the energy on the field is going to be . . . I can’t explain it but I get that feeling of it’s going to be a cracker of a game on Saturday afternoon.”
The article Damian de Allende: Springbok centre will leave Munster with a ‘big smile’ appeared first on Planetrugby.com.