Pat Lambie has been ‘oozing confidence’ at training and his selection at fullback is not a gamble, according to Allister Coetzee. CRAIG LEWIS reports in Johannesburg.
Lambie last started a Test at fullback on the end-of-year tour in 2013, with the 25-year-old having since started seven matches at flyhalf, while making 10 appearances off the bench for the Boks.
While Lambie is no stranger to the fullback berth, where he has previously played extensively for the Sharks and Boks, he has spent most of his time specialising at flyhalf over the last couple of years.
It’s where Lambie started the first Test of the year against Ireland, but a serious concussion suffered in that clash then ruled him out of action for over three months.
Although he only recently returned to play with a brief appearance off the bench in a Currie Cup clash, a bullish Coetzee moved to insist on Thursday that Lambie was fully fit and ready to start at 15 in this Saturday's Test against the Wallabies.
When a journalist asked him about any possible concern over some players playing out of position, such as Lambie at fullback, he shot back: ‘What would you say if I told you this was the most experienced backline we’ve selected this year?’
As it is, strengths such as experience, leadership and communication are primary factors that contributed towards Coetzee’s selection of Lambie at fullback.
‘Pat is a player with 51 Tests caps to his name and has a lot of experience. He’s not injured anymore, and at training it was clear to see that he was oozing with confidence. It’s a great opportunity to play for the Boks and he’s ready, he’s got leadership, experience and know-how. His selection is not a gamble at all.’
Lambie comes in for Johan Goosen, who has battled to make a consistent impression at fullback over the first four Tests of the Rugby Championship.
And despite the fact that Lambie will be starting just his eighth Test at fullback, Coetzee insisted that it shouldn’t be a problematic transition for the Sharks flyhalf.
‘That’s not a concern when you’ve played 51 Tests, and had quite a lot of time there [at fullback]. What Pat will bring is leadership, and the big thing with backline play is communication.
‘I know Pat will communicate well with the wingers and have great organisation, which is key for us. His positional play is also solid, and he’s good under the high ball, and that’s an area where we haven’t been good enough. Pat will certainly bring a lot to the team.’
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images