Super Lambie’s light shines bright
28 Feb 2011
MARK KEOHANE, in his weekly Business Day newspaper column, writes Pat Lambie again showed why he – and not Elton Jantjies – is the future No 10 for the Springboks.
Lambie’s effort against the Blues again emphasised how poorly he was utilised on the Springboks’ tour in the UK.
Elton Jantjies’ performance at flyhalf for the Lions against the Stormers in Cape Town an hour later confirmed why he should not have been on tour with the national side.
Bok coach Peter de Villiers selected Jantjies ahead of Lambie at flyhalf against the Barbarians at Twickenham. He even gave Jantjies the goal- kicking responsibility. Predictably, Jantjies flopped, even though a case was made for the 20-year-old that it was a learning experience.
What then of the other 20- year-old who had been man of the match in the Currie Cup final — one Lambie?
He had been overlooked as the young player of the year in the Currie Cup because the politically correct decision was to give it to Jantjies. Such madness must be put aside if the Boks are to take the 30 best to New Zealand to defend a title won in France four years ago.
Lambie is of the Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson and Matt Giteau mould. His age is incidental. He is doing what you expect of veterans and he is doing it consistently, be it in Currie Cup or Super Rugby.
Lambie, outstanding as a schoolboy fullback, flourished in the midfield for the Sharks last year. But it has been as flyhalf where he has shown himself to be special.
I was among those who questioned the decision to move him from fullback to flyhalf. I feared the juggling between fullback, flyhalf and centre could lead to a repeat of Frans Steyn — where potentially the world’s best fullback thinks he is a flyhalf but spends most of his time playing centre.
Lambie, from what I’m told, is emotionally stronger than Steyn . Lambie, from what I have seen, has to be playing in tandem with Butch James for the Boks in the Tri-Nations as preparation for the World Cup.
The better players are measured by how much time they have on the ball and by how they don’t get flustered when making mistakes.
Carter is like that. Wilkinson, in his youth, was that kind of player, and so is Lambie.
Jantjies has some way to go before he can be spoken of as a national flyhalf. If only the national selectors had listened to Lions coach John Mitchell, who cautioned that his player was good but not yet good enough to play international rugby.
Mitchell and Carlos Spencer believe in the future of Jantjies, which is why he is the Lions’ first choice, but it is a problem for Mitchell that Jantjies is averaging closer to 40% than 80% as goal kicker.
Mitchell’s Lions are well coached and his mix of youngsters and journeymen have proven outstanding pupils, but for a side as limited in pedigree they need every bit of luck and also a kicker who can convert points. Jantjies, so far, has failed and cost the Lions two wins.
There is no way the Lions, on performance, should have lost to the Stormers, who were woeful.
I don’t know if the Lions could have shown greater commitment and I doubt the Stormers could have been worse in the opening hour, yet the home team led at half time and led at the final whistle.
The Stormers, for all the wobbles, showed the quality of a champion in kicking for the corner in the 76th minute, winning the line-out and rumbling over for the winning try. Peter Grant added the conversion, which meant the Lions had to score a try to win.
The visitors gave it everything, kept the ball for four minutes and worked 17 phases in advancing 80m. But not once did they break a tackle or force a line-break. Mitchell won’t take comfort from coming close and neither should the Lions.
To be a better team they have to get better results because for all the heroics they still haven’t won a Super Rugby match since May 2 2009.
The Stormers should also not focus too much on the bravery of their effort as that would be settling for second place.
Grant provided the impetus in the last 20 minutes, even if his introduction from the bench after a season in Japan should have come 20 minutes earlier.
His effort was exceptional but even this cameo was second to what Lambie produced in Durban, which should tell you just how good Lambie was.
Not so Jantjies and it is a problem if the Lions are to get reward for effort.