Wrong to start with Lam­bie?

‘Scape­goat’ Pol­lard’s power an as­set and he needs UK play­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

The Star Early Edition - - RUGBY - ASHFAK MO­HAMED

SPRING­BOK coach Heyneke Meyer has missed a trick in pre­par­ing for next year’s World Cup by stick­ing with Pa­trick Lam­bie at fly­half for Satur­day’s Test against Wales in­stead of pick­ing Han­dré Pol­lard.

Lam­bie made his Test de­but against Ire­land in 2010 as a 20-year-old and has started sev­eral Tests on end-of-year tours since then, so he is well-versed with con­di­tions he will face in next year’s World Cup in Eng­land.

And he started in the last two games against Italy and Eng­land, so Satur­day’s clash at the Mil­len­nium Sta­dium would’ve been an ideal op­por­tu­nity for Meyer to have another look at Pol­lard, who wore the No 10 jersey against Ire­land in the open­ing Test of the tour.

It ap­pears as if Pol­lard has been made the scape­goat for the 29-15 de­feat in Dublin, as Meyer praised Lam­bie for his kick­ing and game man­age­ment in the vic­to­ries over Eng­land and Italy. But Pol­lard was one of the few Boks to shine against Ire­land, as he ran hard at the ad­van­tage line and was strong in the tackle and won good ter­ri­tory with the boot.

The Boks were camped inside the Ir­ish 22 for most of the game – they won 62 per­cent ter­ri­tory and 57 per­cent pos­ses­sion – yet Meyer said that they should’ve “kicked more”.

But what­ever may or may not have hap­pened against Ire­land, Pol­lard needed to start another Test in north­ern hemi­sphere con­di­tions. While Lam­bie, who has 39 caps, did rea­son­ably well against Eng­land and Italy with his goal-kick­ing and lit­tle chips over the top, he ar­guably lacks that at­tack­ing bril­liance that Pol­lard pos­sesses and which needs to be de­vel­oped tak­ing into ac­count next year’s World Cup.

In ad­di­tion, Pol­lard’s size and prow­ess on de­fence would have been valu­able in the Boks’ bid to stop the big Welsh backs such as inside cen­tre Jamie Roberts, who will be sure to tar­get Lam­bie’s chan­nel, from gain­ing mo­men­tum on at­tack.

Asked yes­ter­day if he was tempted to start with Pol­lard, Meyer said: “Yes, I was. But Patty was in­jured after be­ing the in-form player of last year’s end-of-year tour. Han­dré is a bril­liant young­ster, es­pe­cially on dry fields and at­tack­ing­wise. We know what he can do, but I felt I wanted to keep some sort of con­ti­nu­ity, which has been dif­fi­cult to do in th­ese four games.

“We just felt that Pa­trick is play­ing some great rugby, and Pol­lard is dan­ger­ous, as you could see when he comes on from the bench. So, I haven’t lost faith in him. I al­ways had a plan with him and he will def­i­nitely get a start next year as well.”

But that start won’t be in the north­ern hemi­sphere, as the Boks will only play in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship be­fore the World Cup.

Meyer has been forced to pick two new wings, with Cor­nal Hen­dricks and Lwazi Mvovo com­ing in for the un­avail­able JP Pi­etersen and Bryan Ha­bana, while he added that he did con­sider giv­ing starts to Nizaam Carr and Damian de Al­lende at No 8 and cen­tre, but felt he needed the ex­pe­ri­ence of Duane Ver­meulen and Jan Ser­fontein against a strong Welsh side who nearly top­pled the Spring­boks in Nel­spruit in June.


MEYER’S MAN FOR THE JOB: The Spring­bok coach be­lieves Pa­trick Lam­bie (pic­tured) is the right player to wear the No10 jersey for Satur­day’s Test against Wales in Cardiff.

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