Lambie says goodbye to South Africa
NEWS: Springbok flyhalf Patrick Lambie was granted an early release from his contract held jointly between SA Rugby and the Sharks and is free to relocate to French club side Racing 92, it was announced on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old Lambie asked to be released from his joint Springbok and Sharks contract, with the parties mutually agreeing to his request.
He made 56 Test appearances for the Springboks and also played in two tour matches.
"Patrick felt that he wanted a different challenge in his career," explained Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
"He has been loyal to the Springboks and has had done very well for his country.
"It is a big loss for us but we want to wish him well with the next chapter of his career. However, having played 56 Tests for the Springboks already, he is still eligible for future selection."
Lambie made his Springbok debut on November 6, 2010, against Ireland in Dublin as a 20-year-old and he last featured for the Boks in the 13-27 defeat against Wales in Cardiff on November 26, 2016.
The versatile backline player has played most of his Test rugby at flyhalf, but also featured at fullback and once at wing for the Springboks.
Unfortunately, injuries have plagued this talented player, who has had to sit out for lengthy periods as a result. His recent concussion injury forced him to reconsider his current playing future and together with his wife, they made the tough decision to move away from home for a few years.
"Playing for the team [Sharks] that I've supported all my life has been a dream come true and an absolute honour," said Lambie.
"The decision to leave a place that will always remain home was not an easy one. However, after having a number of setbacks over the last few years, the thinking was to break the cycle and to go experience something different in a new environment. I would like to thank The Sharks and SA Rugby for their understanding and support. I would also like to thank all the people that have shown their love and support for me throughout my career so far.
"I have loved my time at The Sharks, and I leave with extremely fond memories. This is a fresh start for Kate and I though, and we look forward to a change of scenery and an exciting new adventure in our lives. I would love to return home one day and potentially finish off my playing days by running out onto Kings Park a few more times.”
Naturally, there will be questions relating to Lambie's health and Sharks team doctor, Alan Kourie has stated the following: "Patrick is fully recovered from his concussion sustained in May this year and has been for some time now. He has been training symptom-free for the last two months while also enjoying activities he loves outside of the rugby setting, like golf and surfing.
"Our suggested time off for him to recover was between three-six months and he currently sits nicely in the middle of that period. Most importantly he is in a great mental space and he looks forward to playing rugby again, at the highest level."
Commenting on Lambie's departure, Sharks head coach Robert du Preez said: "Pat will always be regarded as an exceptional player who has served the Sharks and the Springboks with distinction. He is a strong leader and a fierce competitor that always sets a great example.
"It is sad to say goodbye to a great player that embodies our values and who was a wonderful ambassador for our brand. We respect his decision and thank him for his dedication and loyalty over the years. He will be missed."