Saturday to see flyhalves showdown

2011-05-19 00:00

PRETORIA — Morné Steyn is still the king of South African flyhalves, but how strong a contender is his crown prince, Patrick Lambie?

That is a question that may be answered at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday in the Super Rugby Sharks’ and Bulls’ showdown.

Steyn is a regular thorn in the flesh of the home team and will surely make the Sharks pay for any undisciplined play this weekend.

However, it is rather the showdown with Lambie that could have an impact on the two players’ career plans for later in the year.

It was quite noticeable that Lambie regularly — too regularly according to some experts — replaced Steyn in Tests on South Africa’s November tour.

That raised the question whether the Springbok management was considering replacing the Bulls player with the young Shark for this year’s Tri-Nations and World Cup.

The Springbok team-mates now play one another for the first time since Lambie became a Bok and both coaches, Frans Ludeke and John Plumtree, should be fairly satisfied with the form of their flyhalves.

Steyn got his backline going increasingly well in recent weeks and had a good game on attack against the Rebels.

His chip kick that sent Wynand Olivier through for the Bulls’ first try was a gem and he also found him with a good run later in the game, which allowed the centre to notch a hat trick of tries.

Lambie missed a month’s rugby, but in the Sharks’ last three games against the Hurricanes, Stormers and Brumbies, he showed that he is again reaching the heights of last year.

Both will flourish if they get good possession on the front foot and Steyn won’t hesitate to go for drop goals. Lambie, on the other hand, loves scoring tries.

Bulls coach, Frans Ludeke, believes that the team’s bye and the quarter of an hour’s rest that Steyn enjoyed against the Rebels, contributed a lot to revitalising the points machine.

“There is still a lot of rugby left in him. Last year this time we had already started playing semi-finals, but this year there is still at least six weeks left and then we go into the play-offs,” said Ludeke.

“The management of players will therefore be important, especially with someone like Morné, who has played a lot of rugby for us.

“Last week’s rest was good for him and we could afford to replace him against the Rebels. It may be decisive in the last few weeks of the tournament.”

Steyn last year passed the 100 points mark after just five games, but only managed to get there in his ninth game (against the Force) this year. He has not yet scored a try this year (after five in 2010), while Lambie has already touched down twice.

Steyn notched 142 points at an average of 12.9, while Lambie’s 115 points has come at an average of 14.3.

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