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Sharks v W Province: Currie Cup final preview
Patrick Lambie will take centre stage in Saturday's Currie Cup final between the Sharks and Western Province at Durban's Kings Park.
The Sharks No 10 will be aiming to prove he should be South Africa's fly-half for the forthcoming matches with Ireland, Scotland and England.
With Johan Goosen ruled out of the European tour by injury, Lambie is likely to be battling with Morne Steyn for the Springboks No 10 shirt.
Lambie completely outplayed Steyn when the Sharks beat the Blue Bulls 20-3 in their Currie Cup semi-final last weekend, and there is an increasing clamour among the rugby public and media in South Africa for the 22-year-old to be given a chance.
Boks coach Heyneke Meyer uses Lambie as back-up full-back for Zane Kirchner, but a strong showing on Saturday could see him pulling the strings in Europe.
Sharks are favourites after an outstanding season, reaching the Super 15 final before losing to Waikato Chiefs in New Zealand and topping the Currie Cup league table.
The Kings Park setting could prove crucial as Province are prone to struggle on the road, with a dramatic 21-16 semi-final triumph over defending champions Golden Lions in Johannesburg last weekend a notable exception.
Sharks have made four changes to the team that started against the Bulls with two Springbok forwards, prop Tendai 'The Beast' Mtawarira and loose-forward ball carrier Willem Alberts, among those recalled.
The only change in the Province starting line-up sees Damian de Allende, usually the left wing, chosen at inside centre ahead of Marcel Brache.
Sharks: Louis Ludik; JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Tim Whitehead, Lwazi Mvovo; Patrick Lambie, Cobus Reinach; Keegan Daniel (capt), Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee; Anton Bresler, Steven Sykes; Jannie du Plessis, Craig Burden, Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Wiehahn Herbst, Jandre Marais, Jean Deysel, Charl McLeod, Meyer Bosman, Odwa Ndungane
Western Province: Gio Aplon; Gerhard van den Heever, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana; Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom; Duane Vermeulen, Don Armand, Deon Fourie (capt); De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff Replacements: Deon Carstens, Brok Harris, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Jebb Sinclair, Louis Schreuder, Marcel Brache, Joe Pietersen
What they said...
Western Province coach Allister Coetzee
"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 fly-half, 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 fly-half after being used at full-back by South Africa is like getting back on a bicycle. You never lose the knack of knowing how to do it."
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