The Sharks will not consider reapplying for dispensation to have Pat Lambie cleared to play in this Saturday’s quarter-final because he has still not been cleared of concussion. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
There has been a fair amount of confusion over Lambie’s eligibility to feature in the knockout stage due to a Sanzaar regulation stating that any player listed as injured prior to the start of the season needs to feature in at least four regular-season games.
Lambie suffered a serious shoulder injury in the pre-season and was therefore listed as an injured player, and not as an official member of the original 40-man squad.
It was a similar situation with Jean Deysel, but he has now played the mandatory four games and could be considered for selection in the knockout stage if fit.
However, Lambie has only played in three games, and would only be available for the knockout stage if Sanzaar granted special dispensation.
The Sharks were hoping Lambie would be symptom-free by this stage and in a proactive move last week, they applied to see if he could be granted dispensation for the knockout stage.
That was turned down after it was ruled that the Sharks have sufficient cover in the squad. However, the situation is a fluid one. For example, Rhyno Smith, who is one of the players who could be regarded as capable of covering Garth April at flyhalf, is also not available for the playoffs as he was not part of the original squad and hasn't featured in four games.
Ultimately, it is a moot point because Lambie is still displaying some symptoms from the concussion he suffered in the Springboks’ first Test against Ireland, and so there is no need for the Sharks to consider applying for dispensation.
However, should the Sharks progress to a semi-final, and Lambie then be symptom-free, they could then reconsider.
On Monday, Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold sought to clarify the matter.
‘The situation is two-fold. It has to be seen as two completely different things. The first thing is about Patrick's injury and his return to play and the protocol surrounding that. Patrick has to be symptom-free to start his exercise, and then he gets exercise-induced symptoms, or he's symptom-free, and from there you can clear him. That hasn't happened yet.
‘Every single day it changes and then we have to do a reassessment and then we have to make another decision. However, the problem is that we're now five or six weeks down the track, and Patrick's done no exercise, so now we've got a third complication in that he has done no training.
‘If he was fine now, we would apply now, but we don’t want to apply and they [Sanzaar] pass the dispensation, but he’s not fit. We’ve now got to a situation where his symptoms are still there, and the player’s wellbeing will always be the primary focus. I don’t have to apply for dispensation because he’s not going to make it on health grounds.’
The Sharks will take on the Hurricanes in Wellington this Saturday, but have applied for dispensation to have Ruan Botha cleared to travel with the squad.
The lock was also listed as an injured player at the start of the season, but similarly to Lambie, has played in just three games during the conference stage.
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