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Former Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie believes South Africa can recover, but admits it will be difficult against a “fighting” Italian team.
Jacques Nienaber’s team has had a disappointing tour thus far, having lost their first two year-end Tests to Ireland (19-16) and France (19-16). (30-26).
The Springboks will face a resurgent Italian side, which defeated Samoa (49-17) before defeating the Wallabies 28-27 last weekend.
Lambie was a member of the Springboks’ lone loss to the Italians in Florence in 2016, when they were defeated 20-18.
While South Africa still has a positive record against Italy, Lambie believes the Springboks have the squad to cross the finish line and win their first Test in Europe.
“Italy is never an easy team to play against away from home.” “The game was under control the last time, and it certainly felt that way on the field in 50-60 minutes,” Lambie said on Friday at the Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational in Sun City.
“Then it goes one of two ways: you run away with it, or they gain a little momentum and suddenly it’s a tight game.” And it was difficult the first time. So I’m hoping the players are mentally prepared for it. There will be a fight; they will not simply lie down and go away.
“You know, it could be well into the second half before there’s any breathing room.” Despite the fact that I haven’t seen the team, the squad that we have is very strong… We could choose any of them, but I’m confident they’ll be able to complete the task.”
The reigning World Cup champions haven’t had the end-of-year tour they’d hoped for, and with off-field issues dominating headlines, a victory this weekend is essential.
Lambie, who was forced to retire early in 2019 due to concussion issues, believes the Springboks will return to winning ways in Genoa, with a Twickenham showdown looming.
“To be honest, I haven’t watched every minute of the two Tests so far,” Lambie, who played 56 Tests for the Springboks, admitted.
“I’ve seen a few highlights and heard a few comments here and there, but look, we’ve played against the best and second-best teams in the world on their home turf and we’ve been extremely competitive.”
“We could have easily won both of those Test matches by small margins.” So I’m hoping for a strong comeback and a confidence-boosting match against Italy this weekend.
“Where we could possibly eliminate some individual errors and make sure we’re on the right side of the scoreboard when the final whistle blows.”