Boks puzzle with Lambie appointment

2016-11-01 13:36
Pat Lambie (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Another day, another puzzling media release from SA Rugby.

On Monday, SA Rugby fired off an e-mail confirming that Sharks star Pat Lambie will captain the Springboks in their clash against the Barbarians at Wembley on Saturday (kick-off at 15:00 SA time).

Quite why they felt the need to confirm on a Monday that Lambie would replace regular skipper Adriaan Strauss for a non-Test ahead of the Thursday team announcement, is unclear.

It may of course make more sense if Lambie is being considered as a long-term national captain and being groomed on this tour for higher honours once Strauss hangs up his boots at the end of the season - but no mention of that.

Is this SA Rugby's way of testing the waters to see how the public reacts to Lambie as a potential long-term national captain?

However, the press release went on to confirm that Strauss "will be back to lead the team again against England at Twickenham next weekend".

So this is a one-off captaincy deal for Lambie - for now at least.

Despite that, the press release waxed lyrical about Lambie being the "natural choice" for the captaincy on Saturday, how he is part of the "leadership group" and "spine" of the team, how he has the "respect of his peers, understands the team culture and has a great understanding of the game and the way we want to play".

All this for the least important match the Springboks will play this year?

Cryptically, the release went on to add that Strauss will still play an important role in the squad by giving support to Lambie (goes without saying, surely?) and helping fellow hookers Bongi Mbonambi and Malcolm Marx and that the 63-Test veteran has "bought into Coetzee's succession plan".

Pray tell what "succession plan" that may be?

With Strauss a confirmed starter at Twickenham next weekend, is Coetzee hinting that he may not play - or may play and not lead the Boks - in their final two Tests against Italy and Wales?

Not selecting Strauss, who has come under fire for his leadership qualities and is a confirmed soon-to-be retiree, would be welcomed by many Springbok fans who felt a new skipper should have been selected ahead of this tour to groom him for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

Finally, despite Lambie being on record as saying he prefers playing fullback, the press release pointed out that he is "equally at home at fullback and flyhalf" suggesting he may be forced into his less-preferred flyhalf slot.

In his 53 Tests to date, Lambie, 26, has either started on come on at flyhalf on 28 occasions and at fullback on 24 (and once on the wing).

Puzzlingly, despite confirming he's the captain for Saturday, nowhere in the press release did it state in which position Lambie will play.

Should he play at flyhalf, he will start ahead of the only other genuine No 10 in the squad, the Bulls' Tian Schoeman.

Should he start at fullback, Lambie will edge out Stormers No 15 Cheslin Kolbe and Bulls utility back, Jesse Kriel.

Read more on:    springboks  |  pat lambie  |  rugby

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