Lambie still sidelined for Sharks
John Bishop - The Witness
Durban - The Sharks will again have to field a makeshift backline against the Cheetahs in their must-win Super Rugby game on Saturday night after head coach Gary Gold confirmed on Tuesday that Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie would remain on the sidelines.
Lambie was concussed in the opening Test against the Irish at Newlands almost a month ago and an assessment this week has found that he has yet to fully recover.
Springbok fullback Willie le Roux, inside centre Andre Esterhuizen and flank Dan du Preez were also ruled out of the game on Monday.
Garth April, who blew hot and cold against the Lions at the weekend, seems certain to retain the flyhalf berth with Gold again being forced to juggle his backline resources to plug the holes in midfield.
Odwa Ndungane, who was shifted from wing to fullback to cover for Willie le Roux against the Lions, on Tuesday highlighted the problems which the Sharks faced at Ellis Park where they lost 37-10.
“We have played very much with the same backline all the way through Super Rugby with the same guys starting so it was obviously difficult when Pat, Willie and Andre were all suddenly unavailable and Paul [Jordaan] was injured in the opening minutes of the game.
“We are fortunate to have depth with guys like JP (Pietersen) who can play in different positions, but it was tough with all the changes.”
Gold and his coaching staff will at least have had a full week to work with the revamped backline and Ndungane said training had gone well.
“We were not proud of what happened at Ellis Park last Saturday but at least we get a chance to make amends this weekend.
“The Cheetahs are a dangerous team with exciting players both at forward and at the back. It will be a tough game and we must make sure we do not make mistakes and give them opportunities. They are very dangerous from turnovers.”
Ndungane described the Cheetahs as a “strange team”.
“They can punish you from anywhere. They have been a bit of a bogey team for us in the past but we have also had some good wins against them. The secret to playing the Cheetahs is to focus on your own game and remain composed and clinical. You can’t allow the game to become too loose, but we have played them often enough and know what lies ahead.”
Ndungane said the Sharks, disappointed by their limp showing at Ellis Park, had been given a boost in Johannesburg late on Saturday night when the Jaguares beat the Bulls in Buenos Aires.
“We were all suddenly upbeat again knowing that if we win our last two pool games we will make the playoffs [as the team third on the combined South African log].
“We know we cannot relax and we are hoping that a big crowd turns up at King’s Park. We always take a lot of positive energy from the supporters and we will definitely put up a big performance on Saturday night,” the 35-year-old former Springbok said
The game kicks off at 19:10 on Saturday and South African Stuart Berry will be the referee.