The ongoing issues surrounding Andy Goode’s work permit and Ruan Pienaar’s positional dilemma might hopefully end up forcing John Plumtree’s hand in the near future. My view is that, when it comes to the Sharks number 10 jersey, Pat Lambie is the clear long-term solution and we may as well pick him there right now.
For those not quite up to speed on the latest developments, it appears as though Goode has yet to be granted a work permit that will allow him to represent the Sharks back on South African soil. There’s been a fair bit of attention given to this subject of late and I for one would not be too surprised if Goode fails to qualify on the basis of lack of “specialist skills” – anyone watching his performance against the Highlanders would have all the evidence needed to come to the same conclusion! Whatever the case, Goode is at stopgap at best and was never meant to be a long-term solution.
Pienaar, on the other hand, does not want to play flyhalf. I’m not sure how this fact has been missed, since it’s come up a number of times of the pat few years (in fact, far too many to list). You can go on for pages about how Pienaar should be willing to “take one for the team”, “put the needs of the country first”, or whatever, but the reality of the situation is that his lack of self-confidence is always going to be a massive hindrance in the pivot position. Ruan Pienaar is not the Sharks’ answer at flyhalf and the sooner we all come to grips with that and move on, the better.
There is, of course, the ongoing Butch James saga but to me, that smacks more of wishful thinking (and sheer desperation) than any sort of rational thought. The Sharks have developed a nasty habit of paying top dollar for crocked players of late, but if they somehow managed to afford the frankly outrageous sum that Bath want to release Butch, they would top themselves in spectacular fashion. Don’t get me wrong – I love Butch, but his time has come and gone. A great player, but his knees don’t have any more Super Rugby in them – mark my words.
So that brings us back to Lambie. The youngster showed on Saturday that he has the appetite and the temperament for big rugby. He has the boot and the tactical acumen to play flyhalf and has done so at age-group level. He is, quite frankly, simply destined to be the Sharks’ saviour at flyhalf, so why, I ask, do we not just cut through all the nonsense and play him there now? Accept that he is going to have bad games along the way, but that if we back him, he will develop and will perform. It’s time for the Sharks to start reaping the rewards of a youth system that has not been allowed to deliver on its promise, because the players it develops are simply never given the opportunity to establish themselves.
Fact is, we need a flyhalf and the Academy has delivered us a bloody good one. Let’s play him.Tweet