Pietermaritzburg - Pat Lambie, the Springbok flyhalf and the new Sharks captain, has undergone shoulder surgery and will be out of action for three months.
Lambie was injured in the first half of the season’s opening friendly against Toulon earlier this month and team doctor Alan Kourie confirmed yesterday that the young Sharks flyhalf had gone under the knife following his AC-joint dislocation of the right shoulder.
“He underwent surgery on Monday and he will be out for 12 weeks,” Kourie told The Witness.
The injury effectively rules Lambie out of action for all but the final three rounds of Super Rugby in July which will follow the break in June for the Springboks’ home series against Ireland.
It is highly unlikely that Lambie will be ready for the internationals with his rehabilitation only scheduled to end late in May. With Rugby World Cup flyhalf Handre Pollard out until next year with a serious knee injury, Lambie was expected to be a shoo-in for the Springboks.
Sharks supporters were hoping that the captaincy would bring about a change of fortunes for Lambie after early-season injury, a torn bicep muscle in 2014 and a damaged neck vertebrae last year, ruined his Super Rugby campaigns and his efforts to nail down the regular Springbok flyhalf berth.
Kourie’s bad news did not end with Lambie on what was a devastating day for Sharks rugby.
Two of their major new signings for the Super Rugby season, Stormers lock Ruan Botha and former Springbok backrower Jacques Potgieter, will also miss much of the Super Rugby season, Kourie said.
Botha, regarded as a capable replacement for Pieter-Steph du Toit, was also injured against Toulon and he underwent hip surgery on Monday. Kourie said that the big lock, like Lambie, would be sidelined for 12 weeks.
Potgieter, an abrasive backrower who was an influential member of the Waratahs pack last year, has spent the last few months playing in Japan and he arrived in Durban with an ankle injury.
“He will have a scope on the ankle and we expect him to be out for between six and eight weeks.”
But wait, there is more.
Loose forward Francois Kleinhans, another casualty of the Toulon friendly, had surgery on his torn bicep last week and he is facing 12 weeks of rehabilitation.
Renaldo Bothma, the Namibian international flank and another late arrival from Japan, has “a suspected foot injury that requires scans”.
Lock Giant Mtyanda, the fourth player injured against Toulon, broke his nose and will miss the two opening weeks of Super Rugby.
Kourie did have snatches of good news. Prop Thomas du Toit, flyhalf Inny Radebe, lock Stephan Lewies and backrowers Tera Mtembu and Jean Deysel are up and running and will return to training this week.
But that is small beer for the Sharks and their supporters who are still 10 days away from the start of Super Rugby and have already lost their most talented and influential playmaker for a third successive season.