CAPTAIN PAT PRIDE OF THE SHARKS
It’s almost like starting over, says Lambie, after a spate of injuries almost cut short a promising international rugby career
WE HEAR often that misfortune strikes in threes. For Patrick Lambie, the rugby gods have been especially wrathful and added a fourth adversity to a rugby career plagued by injuries since 2014 when he tore a bicep muscle in Pretoria in an ill-tempered Super Rugby match between the Sharks and the Bulls.
There have been periodical serious injuries since, but in January 2017 the ever-amiable, humble and spiritual Lambie is all genial smiles as he discusses his latest comeback, not only from injury but as captain of the Sharks, confirmed in a statement yesterday by coach Robert du Preez.
He even has his usual wry sense of humour.
“Surely it can’t get worse with the injuries,” the 26-yearold-said. “I had three major injuries, and then a fourth – bicep in 2014, neck vertebrae in 2015, shoulder capsule in the Toulon friendly in February 2016, and the concussion in the Springbok match against Ireland in June that year. “I am hoping four is enough! I feel like I have not played for the Sharks in years. It is almost like starting over, but there is the added responsibility of leading the team after some difficult times and that just excites me with desire to get my rugby career back to where I want it to be.” Lambie says he feels in his heart that “enough is enough” with the injuries and he is now “upbeat” to just about relaunch his career.
“It is easy to say that it is an honour to lead the Sharks this year but I want to go one further and say it is an honour I want to embrace ON THE FIELD …!”
The good news is that Lambie says he and the squad are fitter than ever, as you would expect under a tough taskmaster like Du Preez, a former Springbok scrumhalf that as a player and then a club coach has never been shy to “spare the horses”.
“Every pre-season is slightly different in its approach, with focuses from time to time on how we are going to play. But this year has been different in that apart from Robert’s obvious focus on conditioning and determination to play attacking rugby, he and (chief executive) Gary Teichmann have been relentless on restoring core values to what Sharks Rugby is all about.
“And that is about being a community-based team, it is about togetherness and respect for the jersey and, most of all, pride in being a Shark.”
Lambie says Du Preez and Teichman do not pay lip service to these values and they are drummed into the team at every training session.
“Of course there is much emphasis on how we want to play, which is about attacking but also being tenacious on defence, but most of all leading this team is going to be about making the Sharks a team that the country can be proud of.”
The Sharks, uncharacteristically, start their Super Rugby campaign with two away matches in Australia, in Brisbane against a rebuilding Reds and then the Brumbies that are infamously difficult to beat for South African teams in Canberra.
“It is an interesting draw to start this way, because we have always started with derbies in South Africa. But you have to accept the challenge that there are no easy games in Super Rugby, and that maybe this is a good thing to get two overseas games out of the way as soon as possible and get as many points out of them as possible,” Lambie said.
“It is a great early opportunity to build some momentum.”
INJURY-PRONE: Patrick Lambie of South Africa is stretchered from the field after a late tackle from CJ Stander of Ireland during the 2016 Incoming Test Series game between South Africa and Ireland at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town on June 11, 2016. Lambie has been appointed skipper of the Sharks.