‘Pat needs to be closer to the ball’

2010-07-14 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree is considering switching South African U20 fullback Patrick Lambie to flyhalf sooner rather than later during the Currie Cup season.

The 19-year-old has played consistently well since replacing veteran Stefan Terblanche at fullback in the Super 14, but Plumtree said yesterday that he believes Lambie will be even more effective at flyhalf.

“I really think Pat Lambie needs to be closer to the ball than he is at fullback. He’s an excellent playmaker, he has a long passing game and he is a genuine threat in terms of his natural awareness of time and space. Pat’s strength is that he holds defenders with his attack.”

Plumtree said the former Michaelhouse player is “open” to a move to flyhalf.

“He played at flyhalf during his school years and he’s a natural footballer. I think it is only a matter of time before we see him playing closer to the ball.”

Plumtree said that he would be cautious in his approach to switching Lambie’s position.

“He’s a good fullback and he has just got into senior rugby. There will be more pressure when he is at flyhalf and he gets closer to the ball.

“But, if it works out, it could be a good thing for the team and for him.”

Plumtree said that he was wary about turning Lambie into a Jack of all trades, another Brent Russell or Frans Steyn.

“That certainly won’t be the case. I’m not sure how much depth South Africa has in the midfield, but I believe Pat has many of the attributes to play there.

“He’s tough and has excellent balance, which gets him out of contact situations. He is defensively very accurate in his tackling and his talents could be wasted sitting at the back.

“The change could take a bit of time, but it could be a positive one for him and the Sharks.”

Plumtree said that the Sharks need inside backs who could threaten and create space for those outside them.

“There are not too many players like that in South Africa and that is my thinking with Pat, developing a threatening attack that people will analyse and realise they have to watch out for the 10 and 12. That’s what we [the Sharks] haven’t really had for the last two years in the Super 14.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s Currie Cup match against the champion Blue Bulls in Durban (5.10 pm), Plumtree said that the Sharks still had injury concerns.

New signing, former WP lock Ross Skeate, will be available and he is likely to start off the bench, while there is a possibility that Bok wing JP Pietersen could be ready. But, he added, Jean Deysel, Odwa Ndungane, Willem Alberts and Lionel Mapoe are still out and centre Adi Jacobs will only be ready for the second round of the competition.

Plumtree said the weekend defeat against Griquas had been disappointing “because we dominated territory and possession and they had to make twice as many tackles as us, and it was just through error that we allowed them to score four of their five tries.”

“It was a hard lesson for a lot of the youngsters, but there will be plenty of motivation against the Bulls.

“These clashes are always good, ones we look forward to. They have a lot of depth, especially in their pack, and it’s going to be an interesting game.

“Last year in the Currie Cup we beat them in both rounds and still didn’t get the trophy, so history doesn’t really matter. It must be remembered that we have quite a few new people involved now, so it is going to take a little bit of time.

“There are a few things I’d like to experiment with along the way with an eye to the future,” Plumtree added.

And right near the top of his list is fielding Lambie in the No. 10 jersey.

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