Pat must decide - Ruan
Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar has called on utility back Pat Lambie to choose a position he wants to specialise in, or otherwise he will stay frustrated as a bench player.
Pienaar and Frans Steyn were both in a similar position to Lambie at the beginning of their careers as the Sharks moved the two of them around the backline, making it difficult for them to settle on a position.
It hampered both in the early stages of their Springbok careers – especially Pienaar, who was seen as a bench option because of his ability to play scrumhalf, flyhalf and fullback.
In both cases it took a move overseas – Steyn to Racing Metro in France and Pienaar to Ulster in Ireland – for both players to finally settle on their preferred positions.
Now with the Sharks shifting Lambie around in the backline, it can be argued it has stunted the talented youngster’s game and he has been unable to cement a position in the Springbok backline.
Despite playing for the Boks at flyhalf last year, Lambie played most of the Super Rugby at fullback, with Frederic Michalak employed at flyhalf by the Sharks.
Despite his versatility, the two young flyhalves in the Bok squad, Johan Goosen and Elton Jantjies, are seen as ahead of him for the No 10 jersey, while he continues to sit on the bench behind Zane Kirchner in the race for the fullback spot.
But now with Goosen injured, there is an opportunity for Lambie – who said he was frustrated by the bench time in New Zealand – to throw his name into the hat for the 10 jersey as well on the November tour.
Pienaar said the quicker Lambie makes a decision on his future, the better it will be for his career. The Bok halfback called on the youngster to decide where he wants to play and chat to the Sharks to ensure he gets prolonged game-time there.
“ I learnt a lot in my time there from Brent Russell, and you can remember how he was shifted around in several different positions. When you’re young, you just want to play but at some point you have to make a decision as to where you want to play.
"Pat has an unbelievable amount of talent, and he can play flyhalf, centre and fullback but it is a difficult situation,” Pienaar told supersport.com
“It’s always great to have a guy like that on the bench for coaches because he gives you so many options.”
However, Pienaar did admit he had to leave South Africa to settle down, and wouldn’t like to see a similar situation for Lambie.
It has only been in the last season that Pienaar has finally found some consistent form, much of it because Ulster use him only at halfback in the European season.
“Pat is a wise young man who has a good head on his shoulders and I’m sure if he sits down he will make the right decisions about his future.”
With Michalak gone, there is a golden opportunity for Lambie to play flyhalf in the 2013 Super Rugby series, but rumours that Elton Jantjies is negotiating with the Sharks as well as Western Province may see him shift back to fullback if the Lions flyhalf comes to Durban.
The Sharks already have Louis Ludick and Riaan Viljoen who can play fullback, with Jaco Taute also in negotiations to possibly join them in 2013.