Moving back to flyhalf is like getting back on a bicycle
The Currie Cup Final in Durban on Saturday offers Patrick Lambie a timely chance to prove he should be the Springbok flyhalf when they play Ireland, Scotland and England away next month.
Lambie lines up with the favoured Sharks against visiting Western Province at Kings Park in a climax to the South African domestic season that will feature almost 20 Springboks.
With recently promoted Johan Goosen out of the Tests in Dublin, Edinburgh and London due to injury, many believe Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will recall Morné Steyn as playmaker.
But Lambie outplayed Steyn when the Sharks defeated the Blue Bulls 20-3 in a Currie Cup semifinal last weekend and large sections of the public and media believe he deserves a chance to wear the No.10 Green and Gold shirt.
Among the many fans of Lambie is Province coach and former Springbok assistant Allister Coetzee, who spoke glowingly of the 22-year-old who can play anywhere in the backline.
"There is no denying that Patrick Lambie is very special indeed, one of those really classy players who stand out because of the extra time they have on the ball and their ability to win matches.
"I have always rated Patrick, ever since I first saw him play. He is an excellent flyhalf, he has all the attributes for the position, and he has shown that since returning to the position after coming back from the Springboks.
"For someone like him, moving back to flyhalf after being used at fullback by South Africa is like getting back on a bicycle. You never lose the knack of knowing how to do it," said Coetzee.
Meyer begs to differ, saying Lambie needs to improve his tactical kicking, and consistently picks him only as the replacement fullback behind Zane Kirchner.
The coach does sometimes change his mind, though, replacing Steyn after his place-kicking success rate dipped to 25 percent and picking back row 'fetcher' Francois Louw after claiming a few months before that the role was extinct.
Lambie is similar to Goosen in that he loves to attack the advantage line and mix kicking, running and passing whereas Steyn favours lying deep and relying too much on often misdirected tactical kicks.
Steyn and Lambie are almost certain to be named in a 32-man touring squad due for release Sunday, but there is a strong belief Meyer will opt for Steyn as his first choice pivot.
The baby-faced Sharks flyhalf has fond memories of playing Province in a Currie Cup final, scoring 25 points in a 30-10 Final victory at Kings Park two years ago that was every bit as decisive as the scoreline suggests.