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Mon Apr 21 11:36:52 SAST 2014

Div advises versatile star to choose it or lose it

SBU MJIKELISO | 12 June, 2012 06:390 Comments
St Stithians pupils watch a Springbok training session at their school in northern Johannesburg
Image by: HALDEN KROG

FORMER Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has said Pat Lambie must choose his preferred backline position or risk playing second fiddle to specialists like flyhalf Morne Steyn and fullback Zane Kirchner.

"Sometimes the player himself needs to make a tough decision [about] where he wants to play," De Villiers said.

"That [decision] will sometimes move him two places back in life, but, in the end, he will move much further forward."

Lambie has always maintained that he would play wherever he is required by the coach.

But that, says De Villiers is "the biggest problem".

"Whenever somebody who specialises moves ahead of him then he won't be [in the team]. He must specialise in something.

"Now he is waiting on other players to either lose form or to get injured so that he can step in.

"If he can make a position his own, play there and stay there, it will do him more good than bad."

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer's decision to play Kirchner ahead of Lambie in the first test against England last weekend drew a collective public gasp.

Kirchner didn't disappoint the coach, fielding high balls well in the 22-17 win, but was largely uninspiring, before injury forced him off the field.

Lambie replaced him at halftime and added to the sparkling third-quarter Springbok revival during which time they put two tries past the tourists.

It is a measure of his calm adaptability that it is easy to forget that Lambie has won a mere 12 Springbok caps and that his coaches - mainly Sharks coach John Plumtree - have entrusted him with any backline position, so long as he is on the field.

"Lambie is a very good rugby player but we've got a lot of talent in this country," said De Villiers, who gave the youngster his debut in 2010 at age 20.

"He must make his own decision on the positional issue because when he makes that decision he can then put his whole heart into playing in that position and he will work hard to become the best in the country."

De Villiers compared Lambie's situation with that of talented castaway Brent Russell - who played wing, fullback, flyhalf and centre - and Ruan Pienaar, both players frustrated by continuous positional switches.

However, the 2011 World Cup coach neglected to mention Springbok captain Jean de Villiers' successful 10-year career despite being tossed around to various backline positions.

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