Lambie in his comfort zone
Lambie in his comfort zoneSHARE
Pat Lambie may not have played at fullback much this year, but he will be very familiar with the players around him at the Millenium Stadium on Saturday.
Although he played all of his rugby for the Sharks this year at flyhalf, including an impressive performance in the Currie Cup Final at Newlands, Lambie will start at the back against Wales this weekend.
Having played fullback at school before bursting onto the professional scene by playing a starring role in the 2010 Currie Cup Final at flyhalf, Lambie's best position has been a subject of fierce debate throughout his short career.
He did very little wrong as the first-choice flyhalf for Bok coach Heyneke Meyer on the tour to Europe at the end of last year, but did not get a single opportunity in the green and gold No.10 jersey this year, covering fullback from the bench.
Meyer explained that he sees Lambie's versatility as a strength, and indicated that he is likely to get an opportunity at flyhalf later in the tour, which means that he is a good bet to start there against Scotland next week.
"If you want to go to the World Cup you need players that can play a few positions, obviously the player needs to know exactly where he stands.
"The chance is good that Pat will also play 10 in these three Test matches as well and it is great to have a guy of his stature that can slot in, especially from the bench he has been brilliant and has shown some great signs at 15 as well," he said.
The Bok coach explained that he has been up front with Lambie, who is happy to play either position, and believes that playing him at fullback is the best call considering the type of threat Wales and the conditions will pose at the Millenium Stadium on Saturday.
"He is very happy to play there, I have had a discussion with him. He is also happy to play ten as well so I think that is the best choice in these conditions," he said.
Whilst some will argue that Meyer is throwing Lambie in the deep end, he will at least be familiar with the players around him in the exact backline that started the World Cup quarterfinal in 2011.
"Pat has been playing good rugby. He is also used to playing with that back three and with that backline for that matter. He is very safe under the high ball and he also offers something different on attack," said Meyer.
Veterans Jaque Fourie and JP Pietersen have returned to complete that World Cup backline, and Meyer is keen to see what they have to offer in what should be a significant test against a star-studded Welsh side.
"Obviously you want experience in these conditions and a lot of these guys have been there. A lot of these players are world class players and I want to see what they can do in this first Test match.
"We were always going to use the second Test [against Scotland] to give other guys chances and then we will know exactly where we stand. But you have to play these guys, they have been there before, they have been great in training and most of them have been part of our team before," he explained.
Meyer added that the backline continuity that his side built up in the Rugby Championship will not be lost with both JJ Engelbrecht and Willie le Roux on the bench.
"The other two players haven't been dropped. You have got JJ [Engelbrecht] and Willie [Le Roux] on the bench and you can still bring them on," he said.
The addition of Jaque Fourie is something that Meyer is particularly excited about, as his experience as a defensive co-ordinator could prove invaluable.
"I just felt I want to see where Jaque stands, he has been brilliant in training and I think the one thing he adds is his organisational skills.
"He has totally organised the backline on defence, we know we are going to face an onslaught from Wales in the backs and he is a very experienced guy. He is still only 30 years old, I have watched some videos of him in Japan and he still comes at speed with hard running lines," he said.