On October 17, Patrick Lambie will turn 27. Where will he and his wife be lighting the candles? The Bahamas, Everest or the Kruger National Park, his favourite holiday destination given that he has a Degree in Conservation?
Wherever it is, Springbok supporters must hope that there is not a rugby ball in sight, and that could well be the case given the medical advice that he should avoid contact sport for some time to come.
Yesterday, Sharks CEO Gary Teichmann revealed that Lambie will play no further part in Sharks rugby this year because of the well reported concussion issues that plague the flyhalf, and he wishes to seek pastures new. The young man cannot be faulted for wanting to escape the pressure of South African rugby so that he can literally get his head right while also recovering from a number of other injury issues that have dogged him.
For a minute, let us recall the 20-year-old Lambie that handed off Springbok legend Schalk Burger to score the match-winning try for the Sharks against Western Province in the 2010 Currie Cup final? Or in 2014 the BMT penalty goal that he landed from 55m at Ellis Park to clinch the Boks a rare win over the All Blacks.
Moments such as those show what Lambie is capable of doing. It is why there was such hype, but he is yet to realise his true potential because he keeps on getting injured.
Don’ buy that rubbish that he is too small. Only the prejudiced against him come up with that crap. Most of his long line of injuries have been the result of sheer misfortune. Much smaller players than Lambie have had stellar international careers. He is short but stocky and is immensely courageous. He is not too diminutive in stature to be siphoned off to the comfy world of Japanese rugby, as some of his detractors suggest.
Lambie has just been desperately unlucky with his injuries, and to sum them up, what where the chances of him banging heads with teammate Rhyno Smith in that match against the Kings in Port Elizabeth?
That was his latest concussion problem and now it is understood that a break from the pressure of South African rugby is what the doctor has literally ordered.
The informed word is that he will be good to go in September, and he may well take up an offer in the South African off season.
I say stuff that, he must take the whole year off and not look for a Japanese vacation. He does not need the cash. The heads, knees and elbows of rugby players are as deadly in collision whether you play rugby in the golden oldies in the Outer Hebrides or on my favourite beach on the KZN south coast, Winklespruit.
The Springbok coaching staff must learn the painful lesson of 2016 regarding Lambie. In one of arguably the worst ever Springbok selections, Lambie was rushed into the starting line-up to play against Australia at Loftus Versfeld, his comeback having been based on half an hour in monsoon rain at Kings Park against the EP Kings.
Lambie was out of sorts, his confidence was shot and he quite simply was not right to play international rugby. Was he fully over his injury problems? Perhaps physically but possibly not psychologically. Who knows? But he was not his usual self, which was painfully clear to see. Picking the poor kid for international duty so early in his comeback from serious injury said it all about the troubled state of mind of coach Allister Coetzee at a time when the Boks were so hopeless.
So let’s learn from history and believe in the very real possibility that a correctly managed Lambie could be South Africa’s Dan Carter at a World Cup final in 2015, or even a Jonny Wilkinson in the same event in 2003.
BY Mike Greenaway
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