Lambie at fullback in late switch

2011-07-30 00:00

A DAY is an age in Springbok rugby. Ask Pat Lambie, ask Morné Steyn.

Less than 24 hours after naming a Springbok team to play the All Blacks with Lambie at fullback and Steyn at flyhalf, coach Peter de Villiers switched the two players for the Tri-Nations international against the All Blacks in Wellington today.

The 20-year-old Lambie will be back at flyhalf, while Steyn now finds himself in the unaccustomed position of fullback.

De Villiers, at the team announcement on Thursday, said Steyn would be at flyhalf and added that the Wellington Test would possibly provide him with “a last chance to play his way back into form” and secure his place in the Rugby World Cup squad.

This was perhaps not quite the boost that a senior player needs on the eve of a Test against the All Blacks, and now this late switch to the unfamiliar position of fullback will have further undermined Steyn’s confidence.

Steyn has only played two matches at fullback — in 2008 for the Bulls — but yesterday he was putting on a brave face.

“I may not have played many games at fullback, but I’m confident that I could make a success of it,” said Steyn.

Steyn told reporters he knew how Dan Carter, the All Black flyhalf, would play the game tactically and this would help him in covering kicks.

But, of course, Steyn does not possess the counter-attacking skills of a modern fullback, while he also faces a testing evening under the high ball.

Lambie, meanwhile, was chuffed by the switch and said it had always been a dream to play at flyhalf in a Test against the All Blacks.

“As a young boy I dreamed of making my debut at flyhalf for the Springboks,” he told News24, “and, yes, it was against the All Blacks, and they did do the haka.”

Steyn’s inclusion does mean that Lambie will not be under pressure to also kick at goal.

“Morné is one of the best, if not the best, place-kicker in the world. It thus makes sense for him to kick.”

Lambie, both as a person and a rugby player, was warmly praised by his Springbok and Sharks captain John Smit.

“He’s an amazing young man. If you had a daughter of 18 years old, he’s about the only rugby player you’d allow her to walk out with,” said Smit, which was both a pat on the back for Lambie and a slap in the face for every other rugby player.

“An absolute gentleman, really intelligent, he commands his position even as a 20-year-old,” added Smit.

“He’s got all-round skills and the composure that’s not the norm with a guy his age.

“I do think he’ll be around for a long time.”

Smit, the most capped Test captain in world rugby, yesterday told reporters that he is struggling to raise the spirits of the young squad — missing some 25 of their first-choice players — after their 39-20 thumping by the Wallabies last weekend.

“It’s been quite a difficult trip … this time round the challenges have been far larger,” Smit told reporters yesterday.

“I think my biggest job is just to try and get the guys to keep renewing their own self-belief in what they can do and what got them here, against the continual struggle of people telling them they don’t have that ability.

“It’s difficult to keep a young side understanding what has got them to this level, the fact that they have been chosen to put a green and gold jersey over their heads when it doesn’t go well,” he said.

“So we had to be really hard on Monday, but keep building on these guys because they are going to be playing Test rugby for some time after this World Cup; they are going to be the future of rugby in our country.

“It’s important for them not to think that every time they get into this environment, the whole world’s hating them.”

Smit has had a stop-start season because of injury and was pleased to play the full 80 minutes against the Australians.

“We were hoping to come here [to Wellington] in slightly better spirits, but having performed so poorly in the things we had trained so hard on it was a hard defeat to digest,” he said.

Smit has played the All Blacks 19 times with seven wins.

“Every single time I’ve played them has been a colossal battle, some have gone well, some have gone badly and some have gone okay,” he said.

“You always know that when you wake up in the morning you can hardly walk.

“I don’t think that this team is so far away from the All Blacks. I believe they don’t have the experience that the All Blacks have and the All Blacks are playing the best rugby internationally at the moment, so it’ll be a massive challenge.”

Indeed it will.

The Springboks, desperately short of experience in the tight five and fielding an unbalanced backrow and a disrupted backline, appear decidedly vulnerable.

Pride and commitment may carry them for a while, but another heavy defeat appears inevitable.


All Blacks: 15 Mils Muliaina 14 Cory Jane 13 Conrad Smith 12 Ma’a Nonu 11 Zac Guildford 10 Daniel Carter 9 Jimmy Cowan 8 Adam Thomson 7 Richie McCaw (C) 6 Jerome Kaino 5 Ali Williams 4 Samuel Whitelock 3 Ben Franks 2 Andrew Hore 1 Wyatt Crockett

Substitutes: 16 Corey Flynn 17 John Afoa 18 Jarrad Hoeata 19 Liam Messam 20 Piri Weepu 21 Colin Slade 22 Sonny Bill Williams

Springboks: 15 Morné Steyn , 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Adi Jacobs, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Danie Roussow, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Gerhard Mostert, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Dean Greyling

Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Ryan Kankowski, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Wynand Olivier, 22 Odwa Ndungane.

Referee: Alain Rolland.

Kick-off: 9.35 am (SA time)

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