Lambie relishes rare starting chance

Pat Lambie learned a number of lessons on the recent tour to Australasia and plans to use that experience in his first start for the Springbok ‘A’ side this Saturday.

Peter de Villiers took a weakened side Down Under and the makeshift team was unsurprisingly thumped by both the Wallabies and All Blacks. While most of those players won’t make the 30-man World Cup squad, it’s feared that youngsters like Lambie will travel to the global tournament bearing significant psychological scars.

Lambie will receive another opportunity against the All Blacks this weekend, and while he admitted that the Boks underperformed on tour, he doesn’t believe those two tour losses have dented his confidence.

Speaking to keo.co.za, the 21-year-old made it clear that the two opportunities contributed to the further development of his game.

‘I got some good game time on that tour, and that experience will certainly help me going into this Test,’ Lambie said.

‘It’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to. It’s my first Test in South Africa which is very exciting. It’s also nice to be in the [starting] mix with some of the more experienced Springboks. It’s really inspiring.’

Saturday marks the final Test for the Boks before they leave for the World Cup in New Zealand. It’s also the last game of the Tri-Nations, and if the Boks lose, it will be the first time they’ve failed to win a game in a Tri-Nations competition.

‘We need to get some pride back this Saturday, and we need to take some momentum into the World Cup,’ Lambie said. ‘Personally, I’m not looking too far ahead, I’m focused on this Saturday. If everything goes well I may be in that World Cup squad, but I have to get through this game first.’

Dan Carter has always been a key man for the All Blacks, not just because of his game-breaking individual touches and cool goal-kicking, but also because of his role as a distributor and defensive organiser. The All Blacks won’t be as dangerous this Saturday given Carter is not in the mix, but Lambie pointed out that it would be foolish to underestimate second-choice pivot Colin Slade.

There are doubts whether Slade can take control or execute like Carter, and questions about whether the All Blacks can implement their successful game plan without Carter at the helm. Lambie, however, expects a similar All Blacks approach despite Carter’s absence.

‘Slade is right-footed and Carter is left-footed, so it will be different in that respect,’ said the Bok fullback. ‘But otherwise I don’t think too much will change tactically. Their game plan has worked well and I’m sure they’ll look to score tries.

‘It’s a side full of gamebreakers and I’m sure they will be confident having beaten us recently and three times last year.’

By Jon Cardinelli, Port Elizabeth