‘Lambie is a superb all-round flyhalf’

2012-11-21 00:00

WHILE Pat Lambie, along with the Springbok pack, has blown hot and cold on the UK tour, his coaches are convinced he will develop into a world-class flyhalf.

Springbok kicking coach Louis Koen, a former Test flyhalf, told the media in London yesterday that Lambie had all the qualities of an international pivot.

“I can’t emphasise enough how much Lambie has impressed us [the Springbok coaches] so far on this tour and I believe he is a superb all-round flyhalf,” said Koen.

“There are a few tactical things we wanted him to work on, and that is still a work in progress, but he has made massive strides.”

Koen said that Lambie should not be pigeonholed as a flyhalf who can only spread the ball wide and attack.

“He can definitely control the game with his boot. He has excellent kicking skills, his distribution and decision-making is good, and I think [defence coach] John McFarland would agree with me that Pat also contributes hugely on defence.”

But Koen said it was crucial that Lambie continues to hone his skills by playing at flyhalf for the Sharks in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

“I see him as a flyhalf and not as a fullback,” said Koen. “I cannot talk for the Sharks, but it is absolutely imperative that he continues playing and developing at flyhalf.”

Koen need not fret. Sharks coach John Plumtree had Lambie at flyhalf at the start of this year — until he was sidelined by injury and the in-from Freddie Michalak took over — and that is where he will be in the 2013 competition.

Koen said that Lambie’s limited experience at flyhalf meant that there were still some problem areas.

“But already on this tour, we have seen him make great strides.

“I know he played at Super Rugby and Currie Cup level as a flyhalf, but international rugby is different. The ball comes back from the loose scrums a lot slower than it does at Super Rugby level.

“That means there is less time to make decisions, and there is less space. That is something that he is getting used to.

“But I can only see a great future for him,” Koen said.

While Koen was talking up Lambie at yesterday’s media briefing, Springbok defence coach John McFarland was singing the praises of burly flank Francois Louw.

McFarland said that the modern open side flank had to be a threat not only at the breakdown.

“It is important to get the mix right. The advantage Flo [Louw] has is that he is 6ft and 112kg. There aren’t many opensiders with the ability to steal and hit guys backwards as he does. Then he brings the carrying aspect as well.

“Flo has offered us massive positives because he has been here [playing for Bath]. He has made a significant difference in our ability to make tackles and get turnovers.”

McFarland also praised Louw’s fellow-backrowers Duane Vermeulen and Willem Alberts.

“They work very well as a combination. Willem whacks guys backwards. His first tackle on Scotland’s Nick De Luca, where he drove him five or six metres backwards, really set the tone for the game.

“Duane reads things so well, while Flo make his turnovers and slows the ball down superbly. Then Marcell Coetzee comes on and gives us that massive workrate. So we’re really pleased with the loose forwards.”

The Boks, for the third successive Test, will have to adapt to the interpretations of a northern hemishere referee, with Welshman Nigel Owens taking charge of the Test.

The match kicks off at 4.30 pm (SA time).

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