Durban - The Sharks have confirmed the departure of Springbok flyhalf, Patrick Lambie, who has requested a release from his contract to pursue a three-year contract with Racing 92 in France.
The union's full statement as it appeared on their website:
"KwaZulu-Natal-born Lambie fulfilled a life-long dream when he made his debut for The Sharks back in 2009.
With close on 100 caps for the Sharks and 56 international caps for South Africa, he has always been a consummate professional and an asset to the South African Rugby fraternity.
Unfortunately injuries have plagued this talented player, who has had to sit out for lengthy periods as a result. His recent injury forced him to reconsider his current playing future and together with his wife, they made the tough decision to move away from home for a few years.
Commenting on his departure, Sharks Head Coach Robert du Preez said: “Pat will always be regarded as an exceptional player who has served the Sharks and the Springboks with distinction. He is a strong leader and a fierce competitor that always sets a great example.
“It is sad to say goodbye to a great player that embodies our values and who was a wonderful ambassador for our brand. We respect his decision and thank him for his dedication and loyalty over the years. He will be missed.”
Lambie added: “Playing for the team that I’ve supported all my life has been a dream come true and an absolute honour.
“The decision to leave a place that will always remain home was not an easy one; however after having a number of set-backs over the last few years, the thinking was to break the cycle and to go experience something different in a new environment.
"I would like to thank The Sharks and SA Rugby for their understanding and support. I would also like to thank all the people that have shown their love and support for me throughout my career so far.
“I have loved my time at The Sharks, and I leave with extremely fond memories. This is a fresh start for Kate and me though, and we look forward to a change of scenery and an exciting new adventure in our lives. I would love to return home one day and potentially finish off my playing days by running out onto Kings Park a few more times.”
Naturally, there will be questions relating to Pat’s health and The Sharks Team Doctor, Alan Kourie has stated the following: “Patrick is fully recovered from his concussion sustained in May this year and has been for some time now. He has been training symptom free for the last two months while also enjoying activities he loves outside of the rugby setting, like golf and surfing.
“Our suggested time off for him to recover was between 3-6 months and he currently sits nicely in the middle of that period. Most importantly he is in a great mental space and he looks forward to playing rugby again, at the highest level.”
The Sharks wish Pat and Kate the very best for this new chapter they are embarking on. Pat remains a proud son of KZN and he departs with our blessing and good wishes."