Halfback pairing of Lambie with McLeod or Reinach will be key to Sharks’ Super 15 campaign, says Plumtree

2013-02-22 00:00

FLYHALF Pat Lambie, along with scrumhalves Cobus Reinach and Charl McLeod, will play pivotal roles in the Sharks’ Super Rugby campaign this year.

Coach John Plumtree said the halfback pairing, implementing the tactical plan and dictating the flow of the game, would be the hub of the team.

“How nine [scrumhalf] and 10 [flyhalf] operate together is going to be hugely important for us this year. They will be the link between what we see as a good forward pack and our good backline,” he said.

Plumtree said the core of the pack (captain Keegan Daniel, flank Willem Alberts and hooker Bismarck du Plessis) was missing because of injury.

“But you can’t underestimate the importance of your nine and 10 playing well,” he said.

Plumtree has the current Bok flyhalf in Lambie while Reinach, who will play against the Cheetahs in tomorrow evening’s Super Rugby opener in Bloemfontein, and McCleod are expected to share the scrumhalf duties this year.

The coach said the choice at scrumhalf would be on a horses-for-courses basis this season and the Cheetahs’ style of play had resulted in Reinach’s selection ahead of McLeod this weekend.

Lambie, said Plumtree, was still making his way as a flyhalf.

“Pat is reasonably new at 10 compared to some of the more experienced flyhalves,” he said.

But the 22-year-old retreaded fullback is not short of help. Springbok Butch James is back with the Sharks as both a player and a mentor, while Carlos Spencer, the innovative former All Black flyhalf, has been down from Johannesburg to help the Sharks backs.

Lambie will also benefit from having Springbok inside centre Frans Steyn alongside him.

“We’re lucky this year to have Frans back in the midfield to help out Pat,” said Plumtree. Frans is a big presence. He’s a running threat and can get across the advantage line and he has a long kicking game.

“Our midfield is now more balanced compared to a couple of years ago.

“When Tim comes back from injury, we will have depth as well.”

They will be tested by the talented Cheetahs’ backs and flyhalf Johan Goosen, who has punished the Sharks before and is back after a four-month injury lay-off.

Goosen is just 20 but he made a strong impression last year in his debut Super Rugby season before dislocating a shoulder in scoring a try. He was later rushed into his debut for the Springboks, but was again sidelined by injury, missing the Bok tour of the UK when Lambie took over as flyhalf.

Goosen has missed the Cheetahs’ three pre-season friendlies, but says he is fit and looking forward to playing again.

“I can’t even remember when I last played, but it is easy to be positive when you know your injuries are behind you,” he said.

Tomorrow’s game kicks off at 5.05 pm and veteran South African referee Jonathan Kaplan will handle the game.

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