Cape Town - SA Rugby president Mark Alexander and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus have paid tribute to Springbok utility back Pat Lambie, who announced his retirement from the game over the weekend.
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Lambie played in a total of 56 Tests and two tour matches for the Springboks since he made his Test debut at the age of 20 on November 6, 2010 against Ireland in Dublin.
He played in two Rugby World Cup tournaments for the Boks - in 2011 in New Zealand and in 2015 in England.
Alexander described the popular player as a true servant of the game in South Africa and said Lambie will be remembered for his calmness under pressure and good leadership.
"From a young age, when Pat starred for the SA Schools side, he has distinguished himself not only as a hugely popular player amongst his team-mates and opponents, but also as a good leader," Alexander told SA Rugby's official website.
"Pat always gave his best in every game that he played, be that for the SA Schools side, the SA Under-20s, the Sharks or the Springboks. As a player, my fond memories of him would always be that of a mercurial player who was an absolute gentleman on and off the field. His retirement was done with the best interest of him and his family in mind.
"We respect his decision and on behalf of SA Rugby I want to thank him and his family for his sterling contribution to our game. Pat's health is of paramount importance and I want to wish him well and I know he will tackle the next stage of his life with the same enthusiasm and commitment that he showed as player," Alexander concluded.
Erasmus described Lambie as an extremely hardworking player always who wore the Springbok jersey with an immense sense of pride.
"He was a wonderfully balanced player, always humble and he treated everybody the same. I think one of his great strengths was his consistently calm temperament," said Erasmus. "Pat gave great service to the Springboks and the Sharks and I want to wish him well with his future endeavors."
Brief player profile:
Patrick Lambie was the youngest member of the Springboks' Rugby World Cup squad in 2011 for the tournament in New Zealand and has firmly established himself as one of the brightest talents in the local game since making his senior debut in 2009. Lambie's versatility meant he could slot easily in at flyhalf, inside centre and fullback.
Positions: Flyhalf (31) Wing (1) Fullback (24)
Franchise and clubs: Sharks and Racing 92 (France)
Springbok number: 820
Test debut: November 6, 2010 vs Ireland in Dublin aged 20
Total Tests: 56
Tour matches: 2
Total Springbok matches: 58
Honours: SA Rugby Young Player of the Year (2011); SA Rugby Player of the Year nominee (2011, 2012)