Lambie eager to start for Bok side

2012-09-12 00:00

IF you believe that the talented Patrick Lambie has been wasted on the Springbok bench this season, then he shares your frustration.

Lambie, regarded as a specialist fullback by Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, but more of a flyhalf in the eyes of the Sharks’ John Plumtree, has been on the replacement bench for South Africa’s three Rugby Championship Tests this season. After seeing no action in the two internationals against the Pumas, he played for the last 10 minutes against the Wallabies at the weekend.

The indications are that Meyer will stay with the backline that stuttered but never fired in Perth and the two youngsters, Johan Goosen and Lambie, will again play off the bench.

The usually reticent Lambie, according to reports from Auckland yesterday, startled the local media with his surprisingly forthright view of the limited role he has been playing in recent weeks.

“I’m desperate for some game time. I’ve been training hard to try and get into the starting XV. I’m hoping and looking forward to some more game time and making the most of my opportunity. If I get a chance to get on the field, I will be doing all that I can to impress the coach and other players,” he told SuperSport.

“It was really nice to get on the field against Australia. I sat on the bench for the other two games and didn’t get on, which was very disappointing and a bit frustrating, so it was nice to get on even for 10 minutes.

“It’s not much time to do anything but I got my hands on the ball a couple of times, cleaned a few rucks and did everything that I could,” he said.

Lambie has consistently maintained that it matters not whether he is selected at fullback or flyhalf. He simply wants to play.

“I’ve had an ankle injury so I’ve played all of 10 minutes of rugby in the last six weeks and before that 80 minutes in the last 10 weeks so I’m feeling fresh and raring to go.

“I just want to be in the starting line-up … It would have been really nice to have got some game time at flyhalf against Argentina but, in saying that, if I get time at fullback this weekend that will be great too,” he added.

The Sharks player echoed coach Meyer’s view that the Boks are not merely a kick-and-chase team but Lambie does feel they could have counterattacked more.

“If you look at the stats from the weekend, Australia actually kicked five more times than we did so the whole perception that we are just kicking everything away and chasing and hoping for the best is actually false.

“Maybe the mindset had been that we were going to kick contestable kicks back onto Australia so the whole team wasn’t working hard enough to get back to give the guys catching those balls the opportunity to counterattack. It was something that was mentioned [at the Bok squad meeting] yesterday and I am sure that we will address it this week in training.”

No one is expecting the depleted, below-form Boks to suddenly rise and topple the All Blacks, and it would be an ideal opportunity to see if a new flyhalf, either Lambie or Johan Goosen, could bring something fresh to the party.

But Meyer is unlikely to go looking to make changes for Saturday’s Test though he has to find a replacement for the banned 20-year-old lock Eben Etzebeth — probably Flip van der Merwe — and his tighthead prop will be the one left standing after the injured Jannie du Plessis and Pat Cilliers are subjected to fitness tests.

The match kicks off at 9.35 am (SA time) on Saturday.

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