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Damian De Allende opens up on firepit explosion

De Damian de Allende and international team-mate RG Snyman suffered burns in the incident last month.

South Africa centre Damian De Allende admits he is lucky to be playing rugby again after a firepit explosion.

De Allende and international team-mate RG Snyman suffered burns in the incident last month, but he has recovered sufficiently to force his way back into the Springboks team for the opening Test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday.

He accepts the outcome could have been far worse.

"I think RG got the worst of it," he said.

Twenty one of the South Africa squad which won the 2019 World Cup are part of the group for the first Lions Test
Twenty one of the South Africa squad which won the 2019 World Cup are part of the group for the first Lions Test (David Davies/PA)

"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 World Cup-winning squad from 2019 named in Jacques Nienaber's 23-man party to face the tourists.

He says that familiarity may help counter their disrupted preparation – with 14 players having tested positive for Covid-19 during the pre-series training camp.

South Africa have also not played a Test match since the World Cup final but De Allende believes previous shared experience will stand them in good stead.

"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."

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Thursday's key events


ATHLETICS
· The women's heptathlon continues with the long jump, javelin and 800m, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson now out of contention following an injury (1.10am-1.40pm)
· Andrew Pozzi pursues his dream of an Olympic medal in the men's 110m hurdles final (3.55am)
· Tom Bosworth and Callum Wilkinson are among the British hopes in the men's 20km race walk (8.30am)
· Holly Bradshaw aims to improve on fifth in Rio to challenge Greece's Katerina Stefanidi and Anzhelika Sidorova of Russia for an unlikely medal in the women's pole vault (11am)
· London 2012 champion Kirani James goes up against current world champion Steven Gardiner in the men's 400m final (1pm)

MARATHON SWIMMING
· One of the toughest Olympic events takes place in Tokyo Bay as GB's Hector Pardoe takes on the men's 20km marathon swim (10.30pm Wed)

BOXING
· Galal Yafai takes on takes on Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov for a spot in the gold medal bout of the fly (48kg-52kg) class (6.48am)

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· Lois Toulson and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix (daughter of First Dates' Fred Sirieix) line up for the women's 10m platform (semi-final 2am; final 7am)

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· Australia face Belgium in the men's final (11am)

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