Let me start by congratulating the Sharks on a superb game on Saturday evening, and say to the Western Province fans that you have my condolences, we were where you are today, a year ago. Anyway, onto something a bit more important.
Many of you would agree when I say I have been rather negative about Pat Lambie and his form this year. Well, I don’t like being wrong, but in this case, I do not mind having to doff my hat and apologise. Pat, you were awesome bud, and you sure as hell shut me up!
We have seen many a debate on the site where I have stated that Morne Steyn should remain as Springbok flyhalf, purely as no other flyhalf in the country can stand by him. This opinion was based purely on the fact that the Springboks have had a vastly improved season with Steyn at the helm, and he has been reliable with the boot. We have not seen similar form from any other flyhalf, well not until Saturday.
The match was always going to be a battle between the flyhalves, and which of the two would be able to control the game. At the end of the day, it was a mismatch. Demetri Catrakilis struggled behind a pack that was not going anywhere. This was a first for Western Province, this season at least, and they didn’t have another plan. Pat on the other hand, controlled the game beautifully, and with the help of Charl McLeod who took a fair amount of the clearing duties, bossed the opposition half back pairing.
I am going to work a second apology into this letter, one to a certain Frans Steyn. Steyn has been at the wrong end of many a form joke or comment, with the player not having looked like his old self since returning to the Sharks. On Saturday, we saw a mature, and surprisingly fit Steyn, who was a monster on defence! I have not seen Steyn play like that since the last World Cup, and I have to say that I wrote off any impact he would have in the midfield. Again, I don my hat.
The improvement in these two players’ games, which can be accredited to experience or just a willingness to prove the critics wrong, lifted the spirit of the entire team, which led to the Sharks playing an immense game and winning the Cup. (I am in no way saying these two won it by themselves, but their influence has to be material)
I wrote an article questioning which players would play themselves into the Springbok squad last week, and having watched the game, a few times I might add, I can say that my opinion on the Bok flyhalf spot has changed, ever so slightly. I am still of the opinion that Morne Steyn is a good flyhalf, and was the best the Boks had to choose from earlier in the year, but when I look at the way Lambie played, he has to simply get some game time to prove his worth. Surely an argument can be made for Lambie to get at least a start on this tour, and that start NOT be at fullback.
The same can be said about Frans Steyn. Surely he has something to add to the Springbok midfield, even if it is outside Jean de Villiers. JJ Engelbrecht has been great, but there is just another element to Frans Steyn’s play, the ability to act as a loose forward at the breakdown and force a turnover, which would come in quite nicely for the Boks. I like JJ, but I would play Frans ahead of him, especially in Europe, where an extra long boot will add a different edge to the Bok backline. His combination with Jean de Villiers can rotate whether on attack or defence, where Frans can move closer to the breakdown to defend against the bigger loose forwards, while their interplay on attack could add something special, especially if they can put Willie or any other wing into space.
In closing, I just want to congratulate the Sharks coaching staff, who masterminded this Currie Cup victory. For once the Sharks seem to have smart coaches, who are willing to try different things to get want they want, instead of playing the same old tune. So here is three cheers for the team, one for the coaches, one for Lambie and the last for Steyn!Tweet