Sharks coach John Plumtree has revealed that versatile backline ace Patrick Lambie will get an extended run at flyhalf in the Super Rugby campaign this year, with Frederic Michalak set to back him up.
Lambie is also comfortable at inside centre and fullback - the position in which he started his career and played for the Springboks at the World Cup last year - but many believe that his skills are best utilised as a playmaker in the No.10 jersey, a sentiment that Plumtree fully agrees with.
He told the Sharks official website: "We're excited about Pat playing flyhalf. We're in a good position now that we know we have Fred [Michalak] for the Super Rugby campaign, that gives us good depth in that position.
"We would also consider giving Fred a role at nine. He prefers to play flyhalf, that's his favourite position, but he could play off the bench at nine if needed," he added.
With Lambie at pivot the biggest question marks in the Sharks backline will be over the composition of their midfield.
After signing Stormers centre Tim Whitehead and watching Under-21 star Paul Jordaan develop nicely last year, Plumtree is excited about the two young players challenging the experienced pair of Meyer Bosman and Marius Joubert for places in the starting line-up.
He commented: "Tim Whitehead has impressed me for two years and never really got an opportunity at Province. He'll get the opportunity here to step up. He's clearly a quality footballer so I guess with the players we have, there is possibility a bit more depth in the backline.
"So there is some nice competition in that position which is possibly a change for us. There is a mixture of excitement and a bit of the unknown about what's coming which makes it exciting," added the Sharks boss.
Out wide the Durban team has plenty of options with Springbok wings JP Pietersen, Lwazi Mvovo and Odwa Ndungane set to fight it out alongside the versatile Riaan Viljoen and Louis Ludik for a spot in the back three.
In the forwards pack the Sharks' Springbok front row will look to get them on the front foot but all eyes will surely be on their second row which is a possible area of weakness.
Despite the percieved lack of depth at lock Plumtree is confident that the players he has will be able to step up and prove a point next season.
He said: "A lot depends on fitness, and if Ross Skeate and Alistair Hargreaves can find some real form and dominate the middle of the line-out, while we have bigger ball-carrying locks such as Jandre Marais and Anton Bresler.
"Piet-Steph du Toit is in the squad as well and is an outstanding youngster who has been involved with the SA under-20s. He could feature a bit."
Other options at lock include big loose forwards Jean Deysel and Willem Alberts who were both used there in the Currie Cup last year and both of whom are currently recovering from injuries.
Plumtree confirmed that although it would not be ideal to use them in the second row, it is an option he would consider if need be. He added that he will not be rushing them back as they are too important to the Sharks aspirations this season.
"With Willem and Jean , it's a week to week thing. If they don't make it for round one then we’ll have other players. It's a long season and it's important that their rehab goes well and when they come back, there aren't any reoccurrences. That's the main thing for me," he explained.
The key for the Sharks' Kiwi mentor this season will be to see some of the senior players take responsibility for the team's performances.
"The team is ready to grow in all aspects of leadership – there are a lot of players who have been around long enough now with five or six Super Rugby campaigns behind them, and I want to see a huge step up in terms of responsibility.
"We've spoken about it, we've seen it and it's a priority for me," he said.
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