Cape Town - Patrick Lambie may be back in the Springbok squad, but it is unclear whether he will feature in the remaining Rugby Championship Tests against Australia and New Zealand.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee recalled Lambie and fullback Willie le Roux on Wednesday in a 31-man squad for the final two Tests of the competition against the Wallabies on October 1 (Pretoria) and the All Blacks (October 8 in Durban).
There have been calls for Lambie to go straight back into the starting line-up at flyhalf in place of the struggling Elton Jantjies, who has blown hot and cold in the seven Tests he’s featured in this year.
But Coetzee said in a statement on Wednesday that Lambie – who only made his return to the rugby field last weekend for the Sharks after being over three months out of action due to concussion – first has to be assessed thoroughly.
Lambie had just 20 minutes of game time for the Sharks in their 52-0 win over the EP Kings last weekend. “Pat has been included in the squad so that our medical and conditioning team can get first-hand feedback,” Coetzee said.
“We want to ascertain his readiness and confidence for international rugby or whether he rather needs to play another match in the Currie Cup for the Sharks.”
The Boks will gather in Johannesburg on Sunday ahead of next Saturday’s Test against the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Apart from Japan-based Le Roux, who could come in for the erratic Johan Goosen at No 15, Coetzee was also able to welcome back tighthead Julian Redelinghuys, who is now over his hamstring injury he sustained against Argentina in Nelspruit, which sees Lourens Adriaanse lose his spot in the squad.
Lock Lood de Jager returns as well from the knee problem he picked up in the Wallaby clash in Brisbane, although his replacement Willem Alberts will hold on to his place in the group as extra loose-forward cover.
Other than that, the rest of the squad who toured Australia and New Zealand have all been retained, but it remains to be seen whether Coetzee will make any changes to his starting line-up for the Wallaby game.
The coach resisted calls to bring in some new faces, particularly in midfield, where Lions No 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg has been in top form.
“Although the results have not gone our way so far in the campaign, I think it will be good to keep the current squad together so that we can build continuity,” Coetzee said.
“It’s great to have players with the experience of Pat and Willie back in the squad. The same goes for Julian and Lood, both of whom have played very well for us this year and will add something to the pack.
“We have much work to do as a team and the best way to build confidence is to keep continuity and improve on the individual errors and our game management that have so far hampered us.
“The two remaining matches will be huge for us, and the squad will work hard during the next two weeks to make sure we are well prepared to face the Wallabies and the All Blacks.”
Forwards: Willem Alberts, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Jaco Kriel, Francois Louw, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Tebogo Mohoje, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Julian Redelinghuys, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Warren Whiteley.
Backs: Damian de Allende, Juan de Jongh, Faf de Klerk, Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana (vice-captain), Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Pat Lambie, Willie le Roux, Lionel Mapoe, Lwazi Mvovo, Rudy Paige, Morné Steyn.