Time to give Lambie the keys
Whether Handre Pollard is fit or not, this weekend is the perfect time to give Pat Lambie a run at flyhalf for the Springboks.
It was revealed on Monday that Pollard suffered a 'delayed concussion' after taking a knock to the head in the defeat to the All Blacks at Ellis Park – the result of some 'friendly fire' from teammate Lodewyk de Jager who he collided with in a tackle.
This has put his involvement against Argentina at Kings Park this weekend in doubt, but even if he is passed fit it is surely the right time to give Lambie an opportunity to run the show with just two Test matches left before the World Cup.
Having recovered from an injury which saw him miss the bulk of the Super Rugby season, Lambie played at flyhalf in the last 12 minutes of the defeat to Australia in Brisbane and then slotted in at fullback for the last 17 minutes of the loss to New Zealand in Johannesburg.
While his versatility is undoubtedly valuable to coach Heyneke Meyer, Lambie deserves the chance to state his claim to the No.10 jersey in front of his home crowd in Durban this weekend.
Lambie took over from Pollard after the defeat to Ireland at the end of last year and showed impressive composure and game management to guide the Springboks to victory over England at Twickenham.
He and Pollard bring different strengths to the position, which gives Meyer different options heading into the World Cup, but having given Pollard a run in the first two Rugby Championship matches it would make little sense for Lambie to go to England later this year without having started at flyhalf.
Pollard's ability to take the ball flat and attack the gainline creates plenty of doubt for opposition defences, especially on the hard pitches of the highveld, but Lambie has also proven himself as a playmaker at the highest level and is in desperate need of gametime if Meyer is to turn to him with confidence in the coming months.
The other option at Meyer's disposal this weekend is veteran points machine Morne Steyn, who has been impressive off the kicking tee for his club Stade Francais this year – which has been a particular area of concern for Pollard.
However, Lambie's goal-kicking is certainly not a weakness, with the game-clinching penalty against the All Blacks last year a prime example of his ability to deliver when the pressure is on.
There is no doubt that Meyer has planned the build-up to the World Cup as carefully as possible, and after two cameos off the bench it seems that the timing could not be better to give Lambie his shot at flyhalf against Argentina this weekend
By Michael de Vries, in Durban