Durban – Flyhalf Patrick Lambie believes his end-of-year Springbok experience has taken him closer towards being the finished article and is aiming to use the Super Rugby season to help him further improve his development.
The 22-year-old kept a 100 percent record on his way to kicking 19 points as the Sharks overcame the Cheetahs 29-22 in the opening round of the campaign in Bloemfontein last week.
He was seen more as a fullback, a position he previously employed, by South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer during the better part of last year, before the national boss moved him to flyhalf against Ireland, Scotland and England during the tour to the United Kingdom.
“I definitely think I’ve got a better understanding of the game from a tactical perspective… when to run, when to kick, trying to get my eyes up a bit more to see the space behind instead of the space that’s just in front,” Lambie said on Tuesday.
“Hopefully I’ve grown a lot. I’m really enjoying playing flyhalf at the moment. I love being in the game, getting my hands on the ball, having to make decisions.
“It’s been really nice to focus on one position during the pre-season and I really want to make that position mine.”
The Sharks, runners-up in last year’s Super Rugby final, are preparing for their first home match in the competition since that disappointment Ä a clash against the Stormers at Kings Park on Saturday.
Lambie, who has already played 20 Tests for the Boks, admitted that having Frans Steyn Ä the new Sharks captain and a veteran of over 50 Tests Ä playing alongside him was aiding his progress.
“I’m really enjoying playing with Frans, he’s a great guy, he has enthusiasm and he has leadership now.
“It’s been really nice. I know I can shovel the bad balls over to him and he will get go-forward for us, and when I’m under pressure I can pass it to him and he’ll kick it 60 metres down the field, so it’s really nice.”
After winning his duel with fellow Springbok Johan Goosen at the weekend, Lambie will be up against another rising star in Elton Jantjies this week.
“It’s a really good challenge. I think we’re really blessed in South Africa to have great flyhalves at every union,” Lambie said.
“I’ll be looking to do my best for the Sharks and hopefully it will be a successful evening.”
Sharks coach John Plumtree was pleased with the way Lambie had started the season and was quickly adapting to his new position.
“He’s going really well. There’s a real challenge in this country for the flyhalf position,” Plumtree said.
“It’s probably the most talked about position coming from Naas Botha days, I guess.
“There’s always a lot of pressure and he’s got the composure needed for that position. He’s growing in his communication with the team, which is obviously vital, so he’s getting there.”
Meanwhile, Plumtree confirmed the Sharks had no fresh injuries after the Cheetahs game, with Meyer Bosman and Jean Deysel, who both picked up head knocks, and Lwazi Mvovo (groin) all overcoming their problems. –Sapa