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by Baylion

Time to shelve the Lambie experiment

November 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

How many more chances must Pat Lambie get to prove himself worthy of a spot in the Springbok team and how many more excuses must one wade through about how it isn’t his fault that he’s not performing to expectations.

For someone who has 28 Currie Cup caps, 50 Super Rugby caps as well as 30 Springbok test caps Pat Lambie’s performance in the test against Wales was shocking. Well, with Morne Steyn possibly out injured Lambie will have probably get two more chances to “prove” that he belongs at international level rugby.

With the number of opportunities Lambie has been given the time for excuses are over, and there were excuses a-plenty after the Wales match. None of his supporters and apologists are prepared to accept that he has to take responsibility for his performances. No, they shift the blame:

- His cross kicks were actually good, it was the other players who were out of position
- Fourie du Preez was to blame for contolling the game when Lambie prefers to do the controlling
- He didn’t get the ball enough (see point 2) to make an impact
- He hasn’t had enough game time at flyhalf
- Heyneke Meyer didn’t prepare hime for playing flyhalf in this game
- Heyneke Meyer isn’t giving him the chance to settle in a position
- John Plumtree didn’t give him the chance to settle in a position

OK that was just one game, which the Boks won despite Lambie, but let’s face facts, in 30 tests he hasn’t been able to convince the Bok coach that he deserves a regular starting berth and that he’s nothing more than a bench utility player. Not even during Super Rugby did he deliver a convincing performance at flyhalf.

In the end it is not about potential but about taking your chances and this is where Pat Lambie has failed. Playing over 1000 minutes of test rugby in 30 tests he is still only there to fill a gap while first and second choice players are injured or rested. Playing over 1000 minutes of test rugby in 30 tests he has yet to take a game by the scruff of its neck and make a statement.

Many Springbok legends made their names in less games than Lambie has played and I can think of no other player who has been given so many opportunities to “prove” himself.

The time for excuses is over. It’s time for Lambie to dropped from the Bok squad.

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by Baylion

ABF for Lambie?

November 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Bok EOYT has primarily been used as a trial for Pat Lambie to show that he has what it takes to be a Bok #10. After failing quite spectacularly in the first two tests to play to Heyneke Meyer’s preferred kick and chase game plan he is now, according to news reports, given the opportunity to play his natural game against the English.

And the time has come for the youngster “to put up or shut up”.

For the first time in his senior career Pat Lambie has been playing under real pressure. Oh, I know he has played in tight matches and in pressure situations on the field, but he has had an easy run off the field throughout his career.

When he started playing senior rugby he was immediately ensconced as the Sharks’ blue eyed boy and was always assured of game time, hero worship and blind devotion. Even after poor performances he was above criticism amongst Sharks supporters and the media. Any criticism, however mild, was immediately met with a barrage of scorn, abuse and excuses. On Sharksworld, the Sharks fan site, any criticism of Lambie might very well lead to a ban from the forum.

For three years he has been above criticism but now suddenly, on this EOYT, the youngster was asked to prove himself and he has been given ample opportunity to do so as the other two flyhalves were relegated to holding tackle bags.

This year must have been a very difficult year for the youngster. This is probably the first time in his life that he is not the coach’s favourite. Where, under Peter de Villiers, he was always assured of sufficient game time, either off the bench or with the occasional start, under Heyneke Meyer he picked up more splinters off the bench than kicking tees off the park.

Until this EOYT that is.

During the first two tests he seemed uncertain and withdrawn, never really grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and stamping his authority on the game. He just cannot afford to do the same against England if he hopes to remain in contention for the Bok #10 spot and it will do no good afterwards for people to blame the game plan, Ruan Pienaar not passing or Jean de Villiers killing the ball.

It is all up to Pat Lambie. It is his time to shine or to go down in flames.

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by Baylion

Bok #10 – The jury is still out

November 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

Saturday’s match against Ireland brought very few answers to the question of who is to be the Bok flyhalf as Pat Lambie failed to establish himself as the frontrunner in the contest for the #10 berth. Like Elton Jantjies against the All Blacks a month ago he was no more than “solid”, with a poor first half and an average second half, and solid is just not good enough.

Nothing is his display on the day would have convinced Heyneke Meyer that he is a better option than Morne Steyn or Johan Goosen so it will be interesting to see whether the Bok coach will give him another chance against Scotland or whether he will, in fairness, give Elton Jantjies the opportunity to start and play 80 minutes.

It is frustrating for supporters of both Lambie and Jantjies that these two talented youngsters have yet to show the skills we all know they are capable of.

JP Pietersen’s Tackle:

A fraction early and probably didn’t deserve a yellow card.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irJqFRI1_eo

About the game:

The Irish clearly caught the Boks off-sides in the first half as they manned up and beat the Boks at their own physical game. The Bok forwards were guilty of not protecting the ball in the collisions and too many players were without support when the went into tackles resulting in turnover ball for the Irish.

Of the forwards only Adriaan Strauss and Eben Etzebeth seemed to be game for the contest and Adriaan stepped up as the on-field leader trying to get his charges going, both in his game and through his very vocal “team talks”. Willem Alberts, Juandre Kruger and CJ van der Linde had very little impact on the game and they should be replaced in the starting line-up for the game against Scotland.

While the second half was better for the Boks the backline remained fairly anonymous as the Boks kept the ball mostly amongst the forwards and the only stand-out backline player, for the wrong reasons, was Francois Hougaard. Surely it is time for him to be dropped, if only to the bench.

Credit must go to Irish for not only catching the Boks off guard with their physical approach but also for their solid defence that gave the Bok backline very few opportunities to get anything going.

My team for Scotland:

15 Jaco Taute
14 JP Pietersen
13 Juan de Jongh
12 Jean de Villiers (as we have no other #12 on tour)
11 Lwazi Mvovo
10 Elton Jantjies
9 Ruan Pienaar
8 Duane Vermeulen
7 Marcell Coetzee
6 Francois Louw
5 Franco van der Merwe
4 Eben Etzebeth
3 Jannie du Plessis
2 Adriaan Strauss
1 Heinke van dr Merwe (I won’t risk Beast and unfortunately JC Janse van Rensburg isn’t on tour)

16 Schalk Brits
17 Pat Cilliers
18 Guthro Steenkamp/CJ van der Linde
19 Flip van der Merwe
20 Willem Alberts/Arno Botha
21 Francois Hougaard
22 Pat Lambie
23 Lionel Mapoe

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by Baylion

The perfect 10

October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

Suddenly, after two good performances for the Sharks albeit in a dominating side, Pat Lambie has forced himself back into the frame for Bok flyhalf. So who will be the perfect #10 for the Boks to take us to the Rugby World Cup?

Morne Steyn? Not everyone’s cup off tea but even though he has been off form he is a proven match winner with the boot and more suited to a conservative game plan. Given that he is our most experienced flyhalf he will remain in the picture.

Johan Goosen? The crowd favourite. A young talent with a massive boot who has yet to really prove himself and he seems to be a bit physically fragile for the senior stage. Given time he can be a force in years to come.

Elton Jantjies? A massively talented player with x-factor. Public opinion depends largely on his performance in his last game. Unlike some of the other contenders who are forgiven relatively poor games he isn’t given that benefit.

Pat Lambie? Another talented player largely ignored by the Bok coach up to now but who will hope that his recent performances will bring more game time at flyhalf, both for his province and for the Boks.

When last did we have four good flyhalf contenders to choose from? We are currently in uncharted waters and it would be a mistake to look at this as an either/or option.

Rather than designating one of these players as the first choice the Bok management and coaches should look at this as a golden opportunity to develop four viable options for the flyhalf berth by sharing the starting and bench opportunities between these four players over the next three years.

Imagine going into the World Cup with four excellent flyhalves rather than only one.

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by Baylion

Point Proven!

October 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

Some people took exception to my view that being a good goal kicker doesn’t make Morne Steyn a good flyhalf and this weekend’s test against the Wallabies proved my point.

Johan Goosen failed as goal kicker and was pulled from goal kicking duties after missing his first two kicks but he continued to play an influential role in the match, as a flyhalf. Even though he didn’t have a perfect game as flyhalf his performance was still instrumental in getting the Bok backline moving and his success on the day was independent from his lack of success as a goal kicker.

However, with Goosen nursing an ankle injury and Ruan’s kicking off target is Heyneke Meyer going to recall Morne for the All Black game and hope his kicking comes right? Make no mistake, we are going to need a goal kicker against the All Blacks as their defence is not going to be as full of holes as that of the Wallabies.

Or will he still go with Goosen and Jantjies but maybe send in Jantjies earlier if Goosen’s ankle/heel injury is still an issue?

I think HM will be more conservative in his team selection for the All Blacks and it depends also on Johan Goosen’s recovery but I think he will bring Morne back into the team.

At centre Jaco Taute did enough, especially on defence, and should get another start now that Frans Steyn is out injured while at lock he will probably go with more grunt with Flip van der Merwe at #4. Otherwise he will stick to his regular team even though Francois Hougaard has not been effective on the wing and should probably be moved to the bench as an impact player.

Possible Springboks team for Soweto:

15. Zane Kirchner
14. Francois Hougaard
13. Jaco Taute
12. Jean de Villiers
11. Bryan Habana
10. Morne Steyn
9. Ruan Pienaar
8. Duane Vermeulen
7. Willem Alberts
6. Francois Louw
5. Eben Etzebeth
4. Flip van der Merwe
3. Jannie du Plessis
2. Adriaan Strauss
1. Beast Mtawarira

16. Tiaan Liebenberg
17. Pat Cilliers
18. Juandre Kruger
19. Marcell Coetzee
20. Elton Jantjies/Johan Goosen
21. Juan de Jongh
22. Pat Lambie

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by Baylion

Does size count with Heyneke Meyer?

August 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

I get the impression that size is more important than skill with Heyneke Meyer.

Flyhalf: At flyhalf Mornetjie is his blue-eyed boy while both Elton Jantjies and Pat Lambie warmed the bench in the last two tests without seeing a minute’s game time. In Jantjies’s case Mornetjie had a horrendous time on the field and later Meyer’s excuse was that it was the wrong time to bring Jantjies in for his first cap. I’m not sure what his excuse is for not giving Lambie game time.

However, everyone seem to expect HM to call up Johan Goosen shortly now that he’s fit, but then Goosen is much bigger than both Jantjies and Lambie and he will still gain some weight too.

Morné Steyn
HEIGHT     184 cm
WEIGHT     91 Kg

Elton Jantjies
HEIGHT     176 cm
WEIGHT     88 Kg

Johan Goosen
HEIGHT     184 cm
WEIGHT     87 Kg

Fullback: At fullback Meyer’s first choice in Zane Kirchner with Lambie as his backup. But then Kirchner is bigger than Lambie and it will be interesting to see how soon Heyeneke Meyer calls on Jaco Taute once he’s fit again, leaving Lambie out in the cold.

Zane Kirchner
HEIGHT     184 cm
WEIGHT     92 Kg

Pat Lambie
HEIGHT     177 cm
WEIGHT     87 Kg

Gio Aplon
HEIGHT     175 cm
WEIGHT     80 Kg

Jaco Taute
HEIGHT     187 cm
WEIGHT     95 Kg

Centre: Heyneke Meyer’s preference of JJ Engelbrecht over Juan de Jongh should come as no surprise – JJ is bigger.

JJ Engelbrecht
HEIGHT     190 cm
WEIGHT     94 Kg

Juan de Jongh
HEIGHT     177 cm
WEIGHT     84 Kg

Hookers: Funny enough, HM went against the trend to call up Craig Burden but considering the alternatives: Deon Fourie (smaller), Willie Wepener (not very good), Callie Visagie (injured) and Hercu Liebenberg (also not very good), he had no choice but now that Bandise Maku is back I’m sure he can expect a call-up soon if he shows that he’s match fit over the next two weeks.

Craig Burden
HEIGHT     184 cm
WEIGHT     98 Kg

Deon Fourie
HEIGHT     177 cm
WEIGHT     98 Kg

Bandise Maku
HEIGHT     183 cm
WEIGHT     104 Kg

So it seem size does matter to Heyneke Meyer.

Other positions:

Flanks: Surprisingly CJ Stander has not been called on but then, Jacques Potgieter is bigger.

Willem Alberts
HEIGHT     191 cm
WEIGHT     119 Kg

Marcell Coetzee
HEIGHT     190 cm
WEIGHT     106 Kg

Jacques Potgieter
HEIGHT     194 cm
WEIGHT     115 Kg

Heinrich Brussow
HEIGHT     181 cm
WEIGHT     102 Kg

Siya Kolisi
HEIGHT     186 cm
WEIGHT     99 Kg

CJ Stander
HEIGHT     190 cm
WEIGHT     106 Kg

Number 8: With Spies and Kankowski unavailable Duane Vermeule should be a shoe-in not that he’s back.

Pierre Spies
HEIGHT     194 cm
WEIGHT     108 Kg

Ryan Kankowski
HEIGHT     195 cm
WEIGHT     108 Kg

Keegan Daniel
HEIGHT     188 cm
WEIGHT     100 Kg

Ashley Johnson
HEIGHT     185 cm
WEIGHT     105 Kg

Duane Vermeulen
HEIGHT     193 cm
WEIGHT     108 Kg