Lambie could play with broken finger strapped for Crusaders match in London

2011-03-22 00:00

SHARKS young flyhalf Pat Lambie requires surgery on a broken finger but the procedure could be delayed until after Sunday’s historic Super Rugby game against the Crusaders in London.

Sharks team doctor Ewoudt van der Linde told The Witness yesterday that Lambie had broken the middle finger on his left hand five minutes into Friday’s clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

“There is a loose bone in the joint and he will require surgery,” said Van der Linde. “The initial indications are that it will be a fairly simple procedure and he will probably only be sidelined for two to three weeks.”

Van der Linde said that Lambie would be seeing the specialist again today to decide on the timing of the operation.

“There is a possibility that he could play with the finger strapped and we could delay the procedure until after the Twickenham game, perhaps even until after we play the Stormers in Durban the following Saturday.

“But certainly we will not take any risk medically,” he added.

The Sharks doctor said that Lambie’s injury was the only fitness concern following the 15-9 loss in Hamilton.

A number of Sharks players, recovering from injuries, are back at training, he said. Lock Ross Skeate, also recovering from a broken finger, “is now fine” while wing JP Pietersen, who underwent a cartilage operation three weeks ago, is “running at training and could be ready for the Stormers game”.

Big flank Jean Deysel, who is being carefully nursed back to full fitness after major knee surgery, is still about two to three weeks away from a return.

Prop Eugene van Staden has fully recovered from his shoulder injury and is in full training, Van der Linde said.

The Sharks flew back from New Zealand just hours after their Hamilton game and were back in Durban on Saturday night. They rested on Sunday but returned to training yesterday and will practise again today. They will have tomorrow off and then leave Durban on Thursday on the overnight flight to London.

Travel fatigue could well be a problem on Sunday but the Crusaders — with complicated and exhausting travel arrangements — will be in a far worse state.

The seven-time champions played a day later than the Sharks, thumping the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.

The 24 Crusaders, battling to find suitable flights, were then divided into four . Two batches left on Sunday and another two departed yesterday en route to London.

Some have travelled via the United States and others through Australia and the United Emirates on their way to Heathrow. They will finally meet in London tomorrow — hoping that their luggage has arrived with them — for a short training week ahead of Sunday’s game.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder described the venture “as a step into the unknown” and no one can be quite certain how the players will respond at Twickers on Sunday.

Twickenham has a capacity of 82 000, and tickets are selling rapidly, but it is expected that for logistical and security reasons attendance will be capped at 60 000 for the game.

With close to 900 000 South Africans said to be living in the London area, the Sharks are hoping that their supporters will outnumber the New Zealanders’ for what is ostensibly a Crusaders’ home game.

The match on Sunday kicks off at 5 pm, SA time.

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