Lambie: Sharks could just surprise their fans and the Chiefs

2013-04-26 00:00

SPRINGBOK flyhalf Pat Lambie believes the Sharks can surprise their own supporters — and the Chiefs — with the vigour of their attacking game in tomorrow’s Super Rugby game in Hamilton.

Both teams have lost their last two games and rival coaches John Plumtree and the Chiefs’ Dave Rennie, in similar positions and in the face of poor form and injury, have responded with a raft of changes.

Plumtree is gambling on a number of young players, a couple out of position, in making 10 changes, while Rennie has made nine to a team still crowded with All Blacks and with a number of seniors returning from injury.

The Chiefs, the Super Rugby champions playing at home and desperate to bounce back, will be overwhelming favourites and Lambie hopes this will help the Sharks.

“It’s a massive opportunity for us because I don’t think anyone is really giving us a chance.

“The Sharks, ever since I’ve been involved, have responded positively when our backs are to the wall. I’m hoping the underdog status will be an advantage and it brings out the best in the team and the individuals.

“I know people aren’t expecting too much of us, so hopefully we will surprise a few.”

The young flyhalf said the game would provide the Sharks with an opportunity to play with some freedom because no one expects them to win.

“But we need to be smart and attack with flair and vigour when we get an opportunity in the right area of the field. But it would be naïve of us to think we can go out there and play the defending champions by throwing the ball around from all areas of the field. That could lead to a bit of a hiding.”

Lambie said he thought the overseas tour would bring the Sharks closer together as a group.

He admitted the devastating run of injuries had been unsettling.

“But we just want to get on with it and not keep harping on about injuries. We are looking forward to getting some key players back from injury [next week], but this week other players have a chance to do the job.”

The return of captain and lock Craig Clark from concussion has come at an opportune moment for Rennie, who was angry at the Chiefs’ limp display in losing first to the Reds and then the Waratahs.

There are six changes to the pack and a new front-row. Samoan captain and hooker Mahonri Schwalger is back from injury with Toby Smith at loosehead prop and Mike Kainga, in his first start, at tighthead. All Black Tanerau Latimer takes over as the openside flank in place of Sam Cane while Nick Crosswell replaces the injured Fritz Lee at number eight.

Augustine Pulu is preferred to All Black Brendon Leonard at scrumhalf while centre Tim Nanai-Williams replaces Charlie Ngatai and Gareth Anscombe returns at fullback in place for the injured Andrew Horrell.

The highly-rated All Black centre Richard Kahui has passed his medical following a hamstring concern.

Chiefs: Gareth Anscombe, Lelia Masaga, Tim Nanai-Williams, Richard Kahui, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Augustine Pulu, Nick Crosswell, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (capt), Michael Kainga, Mahonri Schwalger, Toby Smith, Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Ben Tameifuna, Michael Fitzgerald, Sam Cane, Brendon Leonard, Bundee Aki, Charlie Ngatai.

Kick-off: 9.35 am (SA time). Referee: Chris Pollock (NZ).

FIXTURES (HOME TEAM FIRST, SA TIMES)

Today: Hurricanes v Stormers — 9:35 am

Reds v Blues — 11:40 am

Tomorrow: Chiefs v Sharks — 9:35 am

Brumbies v Force — 11:40 am

Bulls v Waratahs — 5:05 pm

Cheetahs v Kings — 7:10 pm

Sunday: Crusader:s v Rebels — 5:05 am

Bye: Highlanders

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