Lambie is a classy player - Jean

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iol spt nov9 Pat Lambie Getty Images Springbok captain Jean de Villiers backed Pat Lambie to succeed as flyhalf when South Africa face Ireland in Dublin on Saturday. Photo by Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

Johannesburg – Springbok captain Jean de Villiers backed Pat Lambie to succeed as flyhalf when South Africa face Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

“He's a class player but I think for the last couple of years, he's really showed what he can do at all levels,” De Villiers said in Dublin on Thursday.

“He's an all round player. He can play 10, 12 and 15 and tomorrow he gets the opportunity to start at 10.

“I think he's got the full skills-set to be able to put up a good performance at Test match level in the number 10 jersey and I'm full of confidence that he'll lead the side well as a flyhalf.”

The Springbok skipper was not concerned whether Lambie's kicking would be affected by the cauldron of Test match rugby.

“He'll be fine. He's a good kicker. Like I said, he's a classy player and he's got the temperament to be able to do what's expected of him,” De Villiers said.

“If he's put under pressure I'm sure he will stand up and be counted for.”

De Villiers felt both teams were in the same position regarding team selection.

The likes of Frans Steyn, Schalk Burger and Bryan Habana were unavailable for South Africa, while Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll were unavailable for Ireland due to injury.

“Before we left South Africa, the same question came up about who's missing from Ireland, but we've got close to ten guys missing and guys that can make a massive difference were they to play,” the Springbok skipper said.

“That's the nature of the game. That's rugby and injuries will always be part of rugby because it is a contact sport.”

The Springboks saw the Ireland match and the rest of the end-of-year tour as an opportunity to grow as a team.

“It's growing in a lot of aspects of our play. I think our set plays have really improved this year, our scrum has been going really well and the lineouts as well,” De Villiers said.

“Juandre Kruger puts a lot of time into that and we're hoping we can build on that from a set phase point of view. One area we need to improve from the last game is our defence. We let in a couple tries... so defensively we need to be up for it.

“Then playing in the northern hemisphere, the breakdown battle will be immense.” –Sapa


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