Munster head coach Johann van Graan says they are keen to keep Damian de Allende at the province beyond this season.

The 29-year-old has lived up to the hype since his high-profile arrival in the summer of 2020, playing 21 times last season, on top of three appearances in the final stages of the previous Covid-hit season.

De Allende was also one of the standout players during South Africa's Test series win against the British and Irish Lions, before starting five of the Springboks' six games during the Rugby Championship.

The centre is into the second year of a two-year contract, which head coach Van Graan says they are keen to extend.

"He's definitely part of our plans, but I've never discussed contract negotiations," he said.

Van Graan said he couldn't provide an update on any negotiations between province and player but hinted that Munster will fight to keep him beyond the summer of 2022.

"He's one of the best players in the world. That's great that one of the best players in the world is playing for Munster, so that's our ambition. We'll certainly work together with Munster and the IRFU to look at our options.

"We really rate 'Doogz', he's one of the very best and the future will tell what happens, and as per any player, once we have any announcement to make, we'll do it some way in the future."

The centre could be set to return to Munster's side for Saturday's United Rugby Championship trip to the Ospreys.

De Allende returned to training with the province this week, having been given a rest following his international commitments with South Africa.

And with Saturday's clash the final game of their URC campaign until the end of November, Van Graan says De Allende is keen to get back on the pitch for the province.

"Damian is a world class player, I think everybody knows that.

"You just have to look at his performance in that last Test for South Africa against the All Blacks, how good he was.

"Whether it is in carrying or tackling, or post-contact skills, his decision-making, it's just great to have him back. That's why we signed him, and why he's such a big part of our plans.

"He'll be raring to go. Obviously we've got one game this week, and we're in a bit of a break, and if selected for South Africa he's got another week off before he joins them, and then after the November internationals he'll be with us until June, which will be brilliant.

"The positive out of that is that once the Irish national players go to the Six Nations we have Damian available, which is a big positive for us."

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