Lambie has, of course, featured on more august occasions for his team, but a solid performance by him tomorrow will serve the dual purpose. Firstly, to keep his team in play-off contention and secondly, to convince the Springbok coach that he will be an able replacement for Morné Steyn – his direct opponent tomorrow – in the Rugby Championship and beyond.
Steyn is enjoying another stellar season and has amassed the most points (212) in the competition, while Lambie languishes in sixth spot (157).
Apart from elevating his success rate at goal, Lambie – perhaps more importantly in the context of what his team is hoping to achieve at Loftus – needs to provide his team with gainline ascendancy with a more assertive display at first receiver.
The Sharks, after all, harbour ambitions of getting bonus point wins from their last two matches to give themselves an outside chance of sneaking into the top six.
To get the type of possession that will enable them to launch, however, the Sharks have to front up to an improving Bulls’ pack.
The visitors followed the route of their opponents when they yesterday also named five forwards and just two backs among their reserves in full anticipation of the arm wrestle.
Unlike the Bulls who went with three front rankers on the bench, the Sharks will have loose forwards Jean Deysel and Jacques Botes in reserve in the final quarter.
“We’ve always gone up there and known how we want to play the Bulls and that’s worked for us at times, and other times we’ve been physically dominated,” said interim coach Hugh Reece-Edwards. “We are very aware of their physicality and certainly we know we need to be physical if we want to be in that game.
“The result we need is to come back with a win to have any chance of staying in this competition. We know we have to keep the ball in hand for long periods of time against the Bulls and that doesn’t change regardless of the style of rugby we want to play.”
The Bulls have some posers of their own. They have to come to terms with life without line-out kingpin Juandre Kruger, but Grant Hattingh and Flip van der Merwe rose to the occasion against the Southern Kings last week.
In Port Elizabeth, the Stormers will take the momentum of three successive wins under their belt into their contest with the struggling Kings, who still have the lingering taste of last week’s defeat to the Bulls at Loftus.
Set-piece excellence from the Stormers should set them apart in this match as they, too, still hope they can sneak into the play-offs.
The Cheetahs – who have a bye – can enhance their chances of qualification if they beat the Blues in Bloemfontein tomorrow.