Cape Town - The Sharks will go into Saturday's crucial Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs in Durban without flyhalf Pat Lambie once again, but coach Gary Gold has stressed that the health of his captain is more important than anything else.
Lambie has been sidelined with a concussion since June 11 when he was knocked out cold by CJ Stander in the first Test between the Springboks and Ireland in Cape Town.
That robbed Lambie of the chance to make the No 10 jersey his own in the absence of regular first-choice flyhalf Handre Pollard, while it is also cost the Sharks their playmaker as Super Rugby reaches its business end.
Lambie had already missed most of the Super Rugby season with a shoulder injury, and that combined with the fact that he missed the second half of last year's tournament with a neck injury means that the last two seasons have been incredibly frustrating for the 25-year-old.
That neck injury meant that Lambie struggled with his 2015 World Cup preparations, and as a result he was unable to put any real pressure on Pollard for a starting place.
Now he is sidelined once more.
"Luckily he’s a very strong character and he’s got a very
strong mind as well," Gold said of Lambie.
"It’s disappointing. We’ve seen the stories and read the
stories of the disappointments a Jean de Villiers has had in his career, but he
was resilient and ended on a high as a great Springbok.
"Patrick is just having
a little bit of a run at the moment, and the same could be said of a guy like
Cobus (Reinach). (They are) Great players, great human beings but they’re just having a
tough time at the moment."
Gold emphasised that Lambie's health was the most important thing right now.
"We miss him
terribly at the moment, but from our point of view as the family, we’ve got to
support him," said Gold.
"His health is the most important thing at the moment. It’s pretty
well documented, all of the stuff about concussion, so our priority is letting
Patrick get better as quickly as possible.
"As soon as he’s back and symptom
free he’ll be welcomed back with open arms. He’s still got a lot of years to
play. This should hopefully be a speed-bump at the moment."
Garth April will start at flyhalf on Saturday.
15. Rhyno Smith, 14. S'bura Sithole, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Garth April, 9. Michael Claassens, 8. Philip van der Walt, 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Tendai Mtawarira (captain)
Substitutes: 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17. Thomas du Toit, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Ruan Botha, 20. Tera Mtembu, 21. Stefan Ungerer, 22. Heimar Williams, 23. Curwin Bosch
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes:16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 George Whitehead, 23 William Small-Smith