Lambie the next Russell?
Cape Town - Peter de Villiers has assured newly selected Springbok fullback, Patrick Lambie, that there's no chance of him being shifted around in the Springbok backline during Saturday's Castle Tri-Nations clash against the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth.
Which is a relief given the various jerseys the gifted young player has donned in recent weeks. Having seen the movie in which players are used in every position except scrumhalf (except in the case of Ruan Pienaar, another player often played out of position) before, a repeat of what happened to former Springbok utility back, Brent Russell, is something all Springbok fans would want to avoid.
It seems these days that a players versatility, while useful when putting together a substitutes bench, can often count against permanent selection into the run on side. Current players that have the potential to fall into that trap include Lambie, Pienaar, Francois Hougaard and Danie Rossouw, while John Smit, recently voted by Sports Illustrated as the greatest Springbok ever, may well be remembered by some as a poor prop!
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Lambie was surprisingly included at fullback ahead of Gio Aplon when Bok coach Peter de Villiers announced his team on Tuesday.
The Bok coaches have given the Sharks ace the assurance that he will play only at fullback for the Boks in Saturday's clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Lambie has admitted that it was a bit of a surprise, but indeed a very pleasant one.
"I'm without a doubt playing fullback. There's no chance of me shifting to flyhalf. I'm really looking forward to it and believe it will be a nice challenge," Lambie told Die Burger newspaper.
Lambie played most of his rugby at fullback as a junior and is not worried about the prospect of playing a Test against the All Blacks in the No 15 jumper.
"I enjoy the challenge of the different roles of a flyhalf and a fullback, but I was a fullback before I started playing flyhalf. At school and just afterwards I made all the representative teams as a fullback. I'm relatively comfortable there," said Lambie.
He will also be looking to cement his place in the South African squad for the World Cup in New Zealand.
"I wouldn't say I'm already focusing on the World Cup tournament. I'm only focusing on this weekend, and if everything goes well, hopefully I'll be in the squad.
"This weekend's performance could determine if that will be the case (if he makes the World Cup squad)," said Lambie.
The Test at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will also hold a special significance for the multi-talented KwaZulu-Natalian as it will be his first Test on home soil.
15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp
Substitutes: 16 John Smit, Tendai Mtawarira, CJ van der Linde, Danie Rossouw, Ashley Johnson, Francois Hougaard, Butch James