I have been reading a few blogs and one thing that keeps on rearing its head is the why Lambie seems to be failing. Most people are of the opinion that it is down to the game plan being implemented by the Boks. I strongly agree with this fact but at the same time it cannot be the sole reason for not just Lambie’s performance but the back line play in general.
On Uysh’s blog he does an interesting piece of statistical breakdown featuring our Lambie versus guys like Carte and Beale. The stats are very interesting. Our flyhalf receives much less ball compared to our Southern counterparts. The other interesting fact is that even the scrumhalf receives less ball than our Southern brethren. Another interesting titbit is that percentage wise our flyhalf also receives less ball from the scrumhalf.
How can one expect to run a game when you get to use less than 50 percent of possession.
Yes the stats centred around Lambie mostly but that got me thinking about another talent, one that had us all licking our lips at the prospects he offered the green-and-gold, Francois Hougaard. Why did Hougie fail. Well if one wants to answer that question I guess one will have to look at how he plays.
He made his name as an attacking scrumhalf. Always keeping the opposition guessing around the rucks, having quick feet and immense strength for his size. He had flair!!. His defence was even outstanding. Yet when he finally donned the green-and-gold in the June tests a person didn’t see that player. What we saw was a copy of Fourie du Preez, albeit a broken one. His kicks from the base of the ruck were abysmal, he never asked question of the defence and never seemed intent on doing anything that even required a minuscule of flair. His rugby took a knock and he was moved to the wing where his “magic” could truly work.
But why hasn’t it? Why when he did play did he struggle? I once again come back to a point I wrote about a few months ago. He was playing against his natural urges, his instinct. He wasn’t asked to play towards his strengths but curb them and improve his weaknesses. This was obviously counter-productive. He hasn’t featured on the wing either because his role has merely become that of a chaser of kicks. His role has basically become one of defence and no more.
When you look at his body language you don’t see a guy strutting his stuff.
Look at Lambie’s body language pre-Bok games. He was raring to go and when he got back to the Sharks he showed why he should be a serious number 10 contender. Meyer seemed to bow to pressure and gave his Lambie his shot. In the Irish game he didn’t play badly but was not his “I am the general” self. The biggest shocker for most watching the Scotland game was also how he was playing like Morné Steyn. It was almost carbon copy. His body language wasn’t showing confidence. It was almost like watching a person go through the motions instead of playing with intent.
Basically what I am trying to say is that our guys don’t seem to be given any freedom to play. It was the whole reason Francois Steyn left the country to. His creativity was being stifled. It seems to be happening again. Our players seem like they are being asked to ignore their strengths if it doesn’t compliment a forward orientated approach to the game. This in turn has a chain reaction where our wings are nothing more than chasers and our outside centres are nothing more than extra defenders. And when the ball does seem to leave the flyhalf’s hands to reach another player via pass rather than kick, it is for no more than that player to crash it up and have it contained in the forwards.
Our under 20’s showed what could be done when using the ball. Our Boks are showing us what we can expect with containing the ball. We play for penalties and tries are a very lucky intercept bonus.