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

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MIKE GREENAWAY

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.”

PIC­TURE: BACKPAGE P

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.

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