Being selected for the 30-man Springbok touring squad was almost more exciting than winning the Currie Cup, the Sharks' match-winning flyhalf Patrick Lambie said on Monday.
The 20-year-old, who scored 25 of his team's 30 points in Saturday's Absa Currie Cup final in Durban, is one of six debutantes who will be going on the five week tour.
He was brimming with confidence in his first media interview wearing a Springbok jersey.
“Obviously, I am very proud of what the Sharks have achieved this Currie Cup and more importantly I am very excited to be here with the Springboks,” said Lambie.
He showed maturity in facing a strong media contingent – a circumstance in which many more experienced players have looked flustered in the past.
“I feel very privileged and honoured, but all our focus is on Ireland for the weekend and I'm going to do everything I can to help the team to win that game whether it's on the field or supporting,” he said.
With world class stars like Morne Steyn and Ruan Pienaar, and fellow youngster Elton Jantjies in the touring squad, Lambie is not sure how much playing time he will be given.
However, he is not having sleepless nights about being surrounded by so many great pivots.
“There are a few good flyhalves in the squad and some healthy competition is always good for everyone, but I think we're all friends and we all get along so there's no nasty stuff,” he said.
One of the qualities Lambie displayed in Saturday's final was composure, which complemented the confidence with which he has played all season.
He feels he is going to need this mindset to compete on the international arena.
“I think all the talk during the week from the Sharks was just to go out there and enjoy the experience. We didn't really worry about the result that much, although it is always at the back of your mind.
“Our focus was making the best of the opportunity, as you don't always get to play in the final of the Currie Cup, so that definitely helped to go out there and enjoy it like the rest of my team mates,” he said.
As a freshmen in the national squad, he said that even a simple task like carrying the tackle bags was something he would do with a smile.
Lambie said that he was not too concerned about the tour disrupting his archaeology studies.
“I managed to write half of my exams, I actually wrote two last week, which was not the best timing, but yes I will miss four papers with this tour so I'll just have to carry that over to next year.”
He is also taking the hype surrounding his contributions in his stride.
“I'm just trying to take it all in and use it to my advantage. The positive talk in the media really boosts your morale, but I'm really not trying to worry about any expectations and rather just enjoying each day,” he said.
As for his relationship with Jantjies, who has also been earmarked to wear the green-and-gold on many occasions, Lambie insisted that their friendship would stand the test of time.
“I got on really well with Elton in the under 20s and it's good to have another young guy with me and a guy I've played with before, so it doesn't matter if he plays or I play, we will always be friends.” – Sapa