Rugby Championship

Lambie back for Boks? Surely not ...

2016-09-20 14:03
Pat Lambie (Gallo)

Cape Town - With the Springboks now well and truly desperate, there have been some loud calls to get a fit-again Pat Lambie back into the Green and Gold as soon as possible. 

Lambie was knocked out cold by Ireland loose forward CJ Stander in Cape Town all the way back on June 11 in Allister Coetzee's first Test as Bok coach. 

South Africa went on to lose that match - the worst possible start for Coetzee - but they would also lose the services of Lambie. 

It has been over three-and-a-half months since that sickening blow, and Lambie only made his return to rugby in this past weekend's Currie Cup clash against the EP Kings in Durban. 

He came off the bench, played for 20 minutes in torrid conditions, and now he is being tipped as a possible starter for the Springboks when they take on Australia in Pretoria on October 1. 

It is not hard to understand why.

Lambie, now 25, offers Coetzee some important fundamentals that Elton Jantjies hasn't provided enough of to date.

Jantjies has been analysed to death since cracking the nod from Coetzee in the second Test against Ireland. 

He has shown his good side on occasions, and when it works he is one of the more exciting flyhalves to watch. 

But the general consensus is that he is letting the Boks down with basic errors and misfiring kicks, both at goal and out of hand. As a result, he has not been able to manage the game in the way that the Boks need, and it is here where Lambie looks an attractive option. 

The worries surrounding Jantjies and what he can offer are not coming from nowhere. They are based on what he has delivered in a run of six starts in the No 10 jersey - a period in which the Boks have struggled immensely. 

Coetzee hinted that he would have some tough decisions to make upon returning to South Africa and that a couple of players might face the axe ahead of the Wallaby game. 

If Jantjies is one of those to get the chop, then where to now for the Boks?  

Lambie was Coetzee's first-choice at the start of the Ireland series with Jantjies behind him, but it is surely too soon to bring him back now. 

The Sharks have one more clash remaining in the Currie Cup group stages - a trip to Johannesburg next weekend to take on the Golden Lions the day before the Boks host the Wallabies at Loftus. 

It is an opportunity for Lambie to get through something close to 80 minutes for the Sharks before his Bok return - something that would normally be encouraged.

His concussion was serious. Those who were at Newlands that day knew it instantly. He fell to the ground in a heap and the sense of concern throughout the stadium was tangible. 

Of course, the doctors know best and if they say he is fit to play, then he is fit to play. 

But what about the match-day rustiness? What about his on-field confidence? 

If Coetzee is hell-bent on dropping Jantjies, then Johan Goosen, for me, warrants a crack at No 10.

I get having former Bulls pivot Morne Steyn in the mix to help out in a crisis, but he will not be in the set-up when Handre Pollard and Lambie are back to full fitness, so what is the long-term benefit?

The other option is to give Jantjies one last shot. 

The Boks, back at home and at altitude, will look to open up the game against the Aussies and Jantjies might just pull off a performance resembling his form in Super Rugby this year. 

If Jantjies fails again and Coetzee decides to turn to Lambie for the All Blacks game in Durban a week later, then he can at least use Lambie's performance against the Lions as a measure of where he is at both physically and mentally. 

20 minutes against the Kings simply cannot provide enough highly competitive rugby to make such an assessment.

My vote? Last chance saloon for Elton ...


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