Springboks star Damian De Allende says he is lucky to be on the pitch against the Lions for the first Test after the shocking firepit accident which left him on morphine in hospital.
The hard-running centre suffered burns to his legs, hands and face when a petrol can caught alight and exploded during a braai (barbecue) in Ireland in June.
Fellow South African World Cup winner RG Snyman sustained substantial burns and had to undergo a skin graft operation to his knee, effectively ruling the giant second row out of the Lions series.
Munster team-mates CJ Stander and Mike Haley suffered minor burns, with all four players being treated in hospital.
The accident occurred when petrol was poured on the firepit, with disastrous consequences.
De Allende – who scored a crucial try in the 2019 World Cup semi-final victory over Wales – has now recovered to take his place in Saturday’s opening Test against the Lions in Cape Town.
The 29-year-old considers himself fortunate to be there.
“After it happened, you go into a bit of shock,” he explained.
“I was in hospital on morphine and, once it wore off, the pain started to kick in.
“Then it really struck me how bad it was and how much worse it could have been and how lucky I was.
“I am just grateful that it didn’t end up being worse than what it is.
“RG got the worst of it and I feel very sorry for him. He is going through a lot at the moment.
“I think I got lucky. I am just glad it wasn’t worse and that I’ve got to play rugby again.”
In preparation for the first Test, De Allende has had two run-outs for South Africa A, sharing in the victory over the Lions and then the defeat to the Bulls.
“I am very grateful that I have got through some good game minutes,” he said.
“It was tough to play two games in a week. I haven’t done that in quite a long time, but it was good.
“They were two physical battles in one week, but the body is feeling a lot better this week now.
“I am happy with where I am at the moment and just grateful to be playing rugby again.
“I am looking forward to the challenge of playing against the Lions.”
Having joined Munster in 2020, Cape Town product De Allende has become familiar with a number of the players he will face this weekend.
“It’s been a great experience for me to see what the rugby is like in Europe and to get a taste of playing against the guys involved in the Lions,” he said.
“I have really enjoyed it.
“I love Munster, I love Limerick, they are great people. It’s a great club. I have learned a lot.”
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