Lambie to shift to centre
Durban - In most areas the Sharks have reached a point that their soon to be ex-coach was hoping for as the Durban franchise heads into a Super Rugby clash with the Blues where there is far more at stake for the visitors than the hosts.
The supersport.com website
reports that Beast Mtawarira
and Willem Alberts
returned before the three week break for international rugby and they will have picked up more match fitness after having played for the Springboks, and ditto for Bismarck du Plessis.
The big robust hooker played just a few club games in May after coming back from a long injury lay-off, but has now played two consecutive second half cameos at international level for the Boks and is regaining his old confidence.
Du Plessis' brother Jannie is also back, as is flanker Marcell Coetzee
after playing the first test of the Castle Incoming Tours Series as a reserve and the second as the starting No. 6 in place of the absent Francois Louw
, as of course is flyhalf Patrick Lambie
, who was used sparingly as a reserve across the three tests even though he was promised a start in one of the games, and wing Lwazi Mvovo
But Lambie may not play flyhalf. The one area Plumtree – if indeed it is still Plumtree who coaches the Sharks against the Blues – still has a problem is centre, where the Sharks continue to be plagued by bad luck. Frans Steyn
was heading back from injury but has been ruled out again, and Tim Whitehead probably won’t play this season as he continues to experience problems with the broken arm suffered in the first warm-up match of the year against the Leopards in Pietermaritzburg.
Paul Jordaan is also of course out for the season and Meyer Bosman
is also injured, while other players tried more recently in the friendly against the Lions are also now out.
That leaves Lambie as a possible inside centre, as Butch James
is also back in action. The decision will have to be whether to play Lambie at flyhalf and James at centre, or vice-versa.
Both players are interchangeable, and it will depend on what the Sharks want against the Blues – the physicality of James at No. 10, or the finesse of Lambie.
Who makes the decision could depend, it is understood, on how a meeting between Plumtree and his current employers works out this afternoon.
The word from the Durban grape-vine is that Plumtree, who understandably may not have his heart in the job anymore after the way he has been treated, could want to take his leave of the Sharks immediately, with perhaps assistant Grant Bashford taking the reins for the remaining three fixtures.
It all depends on how the meeting over contractual issues later on Tuesday goes, but right now it is hard to decide who should be spoken to at the Sharks when it comes to the running of the team heading into the last three matches.