Lambie stoops to conquer

2011-09-16 00:00

PAT Lambie is an ankle man. The Sharks and Springbok fullback admits that he ignores heaving chests and thumping thighs and looks only at the ankles.

That, he says, is the secret to his defensive technique.

Lambie, named at fullback for the Springboks’ second Rugby World Cup outing tomorrow, will face massive Fijians who are built like brick outhouses and enjoy running round, over and through defenders.

“It won’t be a problem,” was his response when asked how he will meet the challenge.

“I’ve always believed that everyone’s ankles are the same size and that is where I will be aiming my tackles.”

And it certainly has worked so far. From the moment he was rushed into the Sharks team as a 19-year-old, first at fullback, then inside centre and finally at flyhalf, Lambie has kept making his tackles, in classic fashion, low and around the ankles.

It was his tackling which first impressed Sharks coach John Plumtree early in his career.

“Pat is an excellent defender, brave and accurate in his tackling,” says Plumtree.

But then the former Michaelhouse head boy has met every challenge in his short life, on and off the field, and done everything by the book.

Lambie is modest and well-spoken with his feet firmly on the ground. His captain leads the praise-singers.

“He is an amazing young man,” John Smit said of him. “If you had an 18-year-old daughter, the only rugby player you would allow to take her out would be Patrick Lambie.

“He is a very polite, well-mannered and intelligent young man. As a rugby player, even at the age of 20, he commands his position be it at 10, 12 or 15. He has composure way beyond his years.

“He will be around for a long time, and as quiet as he is, he has strong potential for leadership,” Smit added.

Lambie, with his direct running and ability to play on the advantage line, will add to the Springboks’ attacking potential tomorrow and he could switch with Morne Steyn at flyhalf on attack.

At 1,77 metres, Lambie is relatively short, but he is sturdy, weighing 92 kg, and he is strong on his feet with a powerful hand-off — just ask Schalk Burger.

This will be Lambie’s second start for the Springboks at fullback after his first appearance was prematurely ended by injury in the opening quarter of the Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth last month.

The pressure does not concern him. “I’ve slept really well since I heard I was in [the team],” he said.

He also does not echo the concerns of many critics that his versatility will count against him.

“I’m just happy to play 15, 12 or 10 — wherever the coach wants me.

“But when I wear the No. 15 on my back, that is the position that I play, and when I’m wearing the flyhalf jersey that is the position that I play,” he said yesterday.

Lambie, at the end of last year, said his goal was to play in the Rugby World Cup.

“I’d like to play well enough to earn my selection into the Springbok squad and play in the World Cup.”

Lambie has now realised his dream and, for goodness sake, he is only 20.

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