Durban - Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White
has identified his crucial flyhalf-inside centre combination and is expected to stick to his preferred candidates to take up this role in the Super Rugby campaign this year, reports Sharks website
editor Michael Marnewick
“Pat Lambie will play at flyhalf for 80 minutes of every game,” he explains without hesitation, “and Frans Steyn will play 12 for me. It gives Pat Lambie a massive amount of confidence having Frans play beside him.”
Lambie has played a lot at fullback - especially for the Springboks - but White feels Lambie is best suited to flyhalf (also because he has many other fullback options) and together with Steyn at 12, the pair could form a formidable duo, taking confidence from each other and giving it right back again.
“We will play what’s important for the Sharks. Not that we won’t work together with anybody, but at the same time we have shareholders and stakeholders and supporters, and along with us as a group, there are expectations, we need to be true to them,” he points out. “We have a philosophy about how we want to play and if it means those two play next to each other for the whole season, then we will make them the best 10-12 combination in Super Rugby.”
Steyn comes back into the side following a difficult year in 2013, although it did culminate in Currie Cup success.
But White and Steyn go back a long way and this student-mentor partnership should truly blossom in 2014.
“I’ve known what makes Frans tick, since he was a schoolboy at Grey College; I know how he thinks,” White explains. “His whole life has changed, he has a child now, his value system has changed, and I’m sure that will have an impact on the way he plays and prepares.
“Last year he went through three coaches before the year ended. He likes stability, he likes to be guided without force. He is a prodigy, a sensational player, a freak. He was spoken about as the guy who could change rugby. That’s what’s so exciting. I’ve sat him down and told him I really need him to show everyone what I think he can do. That’s important, because when he’s next to Pat, you will see a much better Pat Lambie. He’s still a work in progress. He came back here and had a knee op, so he’s not 100% yet, but everyone knows what his 80% is and that’s better than most people when they’re 100%”
White declares himself happy with the preparations for the Super Rugby competition which gets going in just four weeks’ time, explaining that: “Our pre-season is going well and one thing I’ve really enjoyed is working with the next group of players. It’s not ideal not to have your Springboks there (they only returned in January), because you want to get hands on with those players for as long as possible, but it gave me opportunity to see what’s in the pipeline, a chance to work with skills of players who don’t get much training and coaching with the main group.
"It’s also gone well from the point of view of those who have had rehab and surgery, in the off-season they have been looked after. As I speak we have 37 or 38 out of a squad of 40 players fit and available for selection for the first game which is obviously fantastic.”
Confirmation of those not yet available include SP Marais, Anton Bresler
and Jacques Botes who are not yet 100% right. “They are all training, but not ready for a full contact game.”