The Runner Sports

What A Pat Lambie Move To Racing 92 Could Mean For Dan Carter

South African Pat Lambie may or may not be heading to Top 14 side Racing 92.

The French press say he is. The 26-year-old has agreed in principle to a three-year deal that will see him join the 2015 Top 14 champions in July 2018, according to respected rugby newspaper Midi Olympique. It claimed the club would be willing to welcome him to their ranks as soon as December, under league additional player or ‘medical joker’ rules.

The player, however, cast doubt on those reports in 140 succinct characters on Twitter.

But, let’s speculate for a moment. While Lambie could slot in at fly half, full back or center, these reports raise questions over the future of Dan Carter. The world’s most expensive player’s three-season deal at the club ends just as Lambie would arrive.

Carter, who will be 36 when his €1.5million-a-year contract finishes, has made no public statement about his future. These reports, no matter how speculative, suggest that Racing may be actively looking to a Carter-free near-future.

The All Black legend has endured mixed fortunes since joining Racing 92 after the 2015 World Cup. In his first season, he guided Racing to their first Top 14 title since 1990. He could do no wrong, even before he took total control of the final against Toulon when scrum half Maxime Machenaud was sent off in the 18th minute for a dangerous tackle.

But controversy and a loss of form marred his second season. Scandal erupted months after the victorious final, when it was reported corticosteroid traces were found during a routine drug screening after the match. Authorities later cleared him of any wrongdoing. And he lost a lucrative sponsorship deal with Land Rover after he was stopped for drunk driving in the center of Paris in February 2017.

It seems unlikely there is room for two world-class kickers even in a club with pockets as deep as Racing 92’s. But it should be remembered that fellow Springbok Johan Goosen was, until December last season when he suddenly ‘retired’ in controversial circumstances, a key member of the squad.

Question marks remain, also, over Lambie. A series of concussions have seen him miss large chunks of the current Super Rugby season.

In early July, the Sharks’ star, who has not played since May following a clash of heads during a Super Rugby match, declared he had no plans to retire.

“My focus for now is purely on making a full recovery and getting fit and strong again,” he said. “Once the three-month rest period has been completed, I will be reassessed to determine where we are in terms of the rugby calendar for the rest of the season.

That news came after a lengthy media blackout, during which the player underwent test after medical test and was referred to a series of specialists, Sharks’ team doctor Alan Kourie explained in a statement. “Three doctors, including myself, are of the opinion that a period of three to six months without contact is necessary,” Kourie said.

“This decision has been taken to give Pat a chance to fully recover from his symptoms, after which we have no objection to him playing again.”

James Harrington
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James Harrington

Cheese-eating, wine-drinking, France-living freelance sports journalist. Doting husband of one. Sickeningly proud father of three
James Harrington
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