Lambie to be back in time

2011-04-14 00:00

FLYHALF and playmaker Pat Lambie undergoes surgery today to remove the pin from his broken finger and he is expected to be back for the Sharks’ next Super Rugby outing against the Hurricanes in Durban on April 23.

In terms of fitness and personnel, the Sharks are in a healthy state, assistant coach Grant Bashford said yesterday.

Lambie has missed the Sharks’ last three games — the defeats against the Crusaders and the Stormers and the win over the Lions — after breaking his finger, but Bashford said he will be available for selection against Hurricanes.

The Sharks have their bye this weekend, but according to the curious rules of the competition, they will still earn four log points.

They then return the following Saturday (April 23) to take on the Hurricanes at King’s Park before their crucial derby clash with the Stormers in Cape Town on April 30.

Backline coach Bashford told The Witness that head coach John Plumtree will have an almost full squad available for the Hurricanes game.

Lock Alistair Hargreaves is one who is unlikely to be risked against the Hurricanes game, but Bashford said he is expected to return against the Stormers.

The Sharks have adequate second-row cover in the athletic Ross Skeate and Gerhard Mostert.

Also about to return to Super Rugby is burly flank Jean Deysel, who will again play for the Sharks XV in the Vodacom Cup this weekend, his third game since returning from serious knee surgery.

“With these players all coming back over the next few weeks, we have depth in most areas and we are looking healthy,” said Bashford.

While the Sharks were untidy at times against the Lions, Bashford said, he was impressed by the players’ energy levels.

“There is no doubt that touring the world took its toll on the players and it showed against the Stormers. But last week the old energy and enthusiasm was back.

“Now our travelling is behind us and I think we can build on what we have done and improve on the quality of our rugby.”

While the return of Lambie will add some fluency to the Sharks’ back play and improve the accuracy of the goal-kicking, Bashford said he has been encouraged by replacement Jacques-Louis Potgieter’s general play against the Lions.

“He really found himself tossed in at the deep end,” said Bashford of Potgieter, who played his first game for the Sharks against the Crusaders at Twickenham and then faced the Stormers in the second.

“Those were two big games. It is a pity he battled with his goal-kicking, and many judged his play on that, but we were pleased with how he went against the Lions and certain areas of his game were very good.”

Bashford said the players underwent a heavy training session on Monday and are now on a full week’s break before practices will resume ahead of the Hurricanes’ game.

While the cloud is lifting over the Sharks’ injury concerns, the Hurricanes are battling with form and fitness. The Wellington-based franchise, along with the Force, Lions and Cheetahs, have won just one of their seven games and they have travelled to South Africa without All Black centre Conrad Smith and flyhalf Aaron Cruden.

Smith broke his nose in Saturday’s loss to the Brumbies, while Cruden damaged his Achilles tendon and both players have returned to New Zealand after the Canberra game.

The Hurricanes open their South African tour against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

This weekend’s fixtures (SA times, home team first):

Friday

Chiefs v Crusaders 9.35 am

Rebels v Highlanders 11.40 am

Saturday

Blues v Waratahs 9.35 am

Reds v Bulls 11.40 am

Lions v Stormers 5.05 pm

Cheetahs v Hurricanes 7.10 pm

Sunday

Brumbies v Force 8.10 am

Bye: Sharks

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