Lambie in race against time

2016-05-12 06:00
Pat Lambie could soon take over the number 10 jersey and the captaincy having returned from injury.                   PHOTO:            gallo images

Pat Lambie could soon take over the number 10 jersey and the captaincy having returned from injury. PHOTO: gallo images

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PAT Lambie has just two Super Rugby outings - against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday night and a home game against the Southern Kings a week later - to play himself into the Springbok squad to face Ireland in a three-Test series in June.

The Sharks have a bye on May 28 and Super Rugby then goes on a month’s break to accommodate international tours.

Lambie, who has spent four months on the sidelines recovering from shoulder surgery, is in a race against time to prove to new Springbok coach Allister Coetzee that he is ready for the Irish series. The Lions’ Elton Jantjies has been South Africa’s form flyhalf in Super Rugby this season but a fit Lambie would provide Coetzee with options and back-up off the bench.

Lambie took the field for half-an-hour against the Hurricanes at King’s Park on Saturday and immediately settled into the job. He not only kicked accurately at goal, landing a penalty and a conversion, but he looked sharp with ball in hand while he also took several powerful hits without flinching or showing any discomfort.

Head coach Gary Gold said it had been difficult to replace the “exceptional” Garth April with Lambie after 52 minutes in the second half but the switch had been part of predetermined plan.

“It was with a real heavy heart that we took April off,” said Gold, “but we have to look at the bigger picture.”

Lambie was appointed the Sharks captain for the season shortly before suffering his shoulder injury on the pre-season tour of France and the indications are that he will start against the Jaguares late on Saturday night (SA time) and take over the captaincy — from Beast Mtawarira — with April dropping to the bench and covering flyhalf and fullback. (Lambie is scheduled to face the media at a press briefing today).

Gold said that the Sharks, with a squad of 25 players, would leave Durban early tomorrow morning on the long haul to Buenos Aires.

“We are in uncharted waters here, having to travel from New Zealand, play a game and then head off west again. It’s about managing the players and having a plan because of our travel,” he said. “We will arrive in Buenos Aires at about nine on Wednesday [tomorrow] night and then have a light run on Thursday afternoon.”

He said the emphasis this week would be on rest in preparing for Saturday, adding that the Jaguares would be the most awkward of opponents.

“We have to remain humble [after the weekend win]. The Jaguares are improving as they go and they will be passionate and very physical in front of their volatile supporters.”

The match kicks off at 10.40pm (SA time) on Saturday.

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