Lambie thrown to Sharks

2011-08-02 00:00

MORNÉ Steyn is back in favour while Pat Lambie was yesterday one of 23 Springboks sent back to their provinces by national coach Peter de Villiers ahead of the home leg of the Tri-Nations.

De Villiers, who has spent the last week sending conflicting messages to the two flyhalves, appears to have done another about-turn, keeping Steyn in his squad and releasing Lambie to the Sharks.

Last week De Villiers selected Lambie at fullback and Steyn at flyhalf for the Test against the All Blacks in Wellington and warned that the Bulls pivot “could be on his last chance”.

A day later he appeared to confirm that Steyn was dropping out of RWC contention when he swapped the two players and Lambie took over as flyhalf. While Lambie, behind a beaten pack, did little wrong and protected his channel bravely on defence, Steyn was largely anonymous in the unfamiliar fullback role. But yesterday there was another twist with Steyn back in the senior squad at Lambie’s expense.

De Villiers said he would only name his squad for the two home Tri-Nations Tests on Friday, but it seems highly unlikely that he will send players like Lambie back to their provinces and then include them in the new Bok squad.

The indications are that the Bok team to face the Wallabies in Durban on August 13 will include most of those first-choice players who have been involved in the camp in Rustenburg.

Eight players who saw action in Saturday’s Test in Wellington have not been released to their Currie Cup provinces and appear to still be part of De Villiers’s immediate plans. Most, it seems, will provide back-up for those senior players who are still not over their injuries.

The eight are backline players Morné Steyn, Juan de Jongh and Ruan Pienaar and, up front, Jean Deysel, Gerhard Mostert, Danie Rossouw and captain John Smit.

The suggestion is that Butch James will start at flyhalf against the Wallabies with Fourie du Preez at scrumhalf. Frans Steyn is expected to be at fullback with JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana on the wings. Jaque Fourie and Jean de Villiers would complete the backline, while the replacements would come from Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Francois Hougaard and Morne Steyn.

Injuries will dictate the selection of the loose forwards. Willem Alberts, Heinrich Brussow, who will play for the Cheetahs this weekend, and Schalk Burger are still battling injury while Deysel, Pierre Spies and Danie Rossouw may all be fit but hardly provide a balanced backrow.

Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Mostert and Rossouw are the second-row options with a host of Sharks, the Du Plessis brothers, Smit, Beast Mtawarira , along with the Bulls’ Gurthro Steenkamp and CJ van der Linde, in contention in the front-row.

While seven Springboks have been released to the Sharks, the Blue Bulls, struggling in the Currie Cup, will benefit from the return of eight players. Western Province, in contrast, have not had any of their players released.

“Eight of this group of 23 released players have not played any rugby since the end of the Super Rugby competition,” said De Villiers yesterday.

“They have been on rehabilitation programmes with their European clubs or with the Springbok squad.”

“Our medical team is continuing assessments on the remainder of the players who were unavailable for selection for the away leg. There are still injury concerns around a number of them.”

The eight players who have not appeared since the end of the Super Rugby season are BJ Botha, Heinrich Brüssow, Elton Jantjies, Zane Kirchner, Francois Louw, Johann Muller, Adriaan Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen.

The 23 players released are:

Bjorn Basson (Blue Bulls), BJ Botha (Munster, Ireland). Heinrich Brüssow (Cheetahs), Adrian Jacobs (Sharks), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Zane Kirchner Blue Bulls), Patrick Lambie (Sharks), Francois Louw (Bath, England), Charl McLeod (Sharks), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks), Odwa Ndungane (Sharks), Wynand Olivier (Blue Bulls), Dean Greyling (Blue Bulls), Alistair Hargreaves (Sharks), Ryan Kankowski (Sharks), Werner Kruger (Blue Bulls), Ashley Johnson (Cheetahs), Johann Muller (Ulster, Northern Ireland), Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs), Chiliboy Ralepelle (Blue Bulls), Deon Stegmann (Blue Bulls), Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs), Flip van der Merwe (Blue Bulls).

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