- Former Springbok Pat Lambie believes Curwin Bosch has made great strides in shaking the stigma attached to his defensive capabilities.
- "There are different ways to skin a cat," says Lambie about the different tackling techniques to help smaller players.
- Bosch was the leading points scorer in Super Rugby this year (86) and is the best ball-striker Lambie has ever seen.
Former Sharks flyhalf and current kicking consultant Pat Lambie believes Curwin Bosch's defensive frailties were a difficult label to shake but the prodigious pivot has made huge strides in improving his tackling.
Lambie, who retired prematurely from the game due to concussion problems, returned to the Sharks this year to serve as a kicking consultant under head coach Sean Everitt. The Sharks were South Africa’s premium Super Rugby team before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watching from the sidelines at practice, the former Springbok noticed how Bosch, who in the past had been castigated for falling off tackles, fought to shake the tag that he couldn’t defend.
"He’s done a lot of work on his defensive game over the last season or two," Lambie told Sport24.
"He’s spent a lot of time with the defensive coaches in the setup and his defence has improved immensely. In our game, it’s quite difficult to shake a label. If you’ve been labelled the 'X-factor' player or the player who can’t make a tackle, it takes a while for that label to be removed.
"In the early part of his career, when he was a young teenager playing against fully grown men, it’s understandable that he was going to slip off a couple of tackles, as did I.
Lambie was a fine leg-chopper during his playing days, often bringing down players much bigger than him. Although he's not given the idea of becoming a coach full-time greater consideration, Lambie would be best placed to specialise in helping young flyhalves with more than just their kicking.
"There are a number of ways to skin a cat," he said.
"There’re different tackle techniques and different approaches to how you defend and he’s worked out what works for him. The Sharks have worked out, from a defensive system point of view, what works best for all of the players, including Curwin.
"Now I don’t believe that’s a concern for him or the coaches at the Sharks. This Super Rugby season, his defence was absolutely fine."
Bosch’s kicking this season has been outstanding - par excellence to any renowned kicker that graced the competition. He completed more than 90% of his goal-kicks, amassing 86 points, 40 more than his nearest competitor Domingo Miotti, which propelled the Sharks to the top of the Super Rugby combined log.
Lambie, who worked closely with him in this regard, said Bosch was the best ball-striker he had ever seen but took no credit in the 22-year-old’s international levels of goal-kicking.
The image of Lambie slotting the winning 50m kick to help the Boks beat the All Blacks 27-25 at Ellis Park in 2014 is one that will live long in memory. It therefore makes sense that Bosch would have soaked in some of that knowledge from someone who has been there and done plenty that.
"I wish I could take credit for Curwin's performances this year but I definitely can’t do that," Lambie said.
"He’s got an extremely sound technique and he’s oozing talent. I’ve never seen anyone strike the ball as well as him. And he’s got a very good work ethic. He has put in a whole lot of work into his goal-kicking in particular and he’s reaping the rewards now.
"Speaking from personal experience, I think when he’s standing over the ball, looking at it on the tee, most of it is down to his mindset and confidence. Curwin is full of confidence at the moment and that’s why we’re seeing those percentages being so high.
"We worked on making that his warm-ups were the same every week, making sure he had his eye in and was oozing confidence before lining up his first kick in a game.
"He’s so full of talent that I’m not surprised he’s kicking so beautifully."