After denials that he was leaving South Africa a month ago‚ flyhalf Pat Lambie has been released from his joint SA Rugby and Sharks contract to take up an offer from French club Racing 92.
SA Rugby confirmed this in a statement on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old Lambie hasn’t played since picking up a second major concussion during Super Rugby earlier this year.
That followed four months on the sidelines in 2016 following concussion sustained in the first Test against Ireland in June 2016.
Although the announcement was only made on Tuesday‚ Lambie has been linked to Racing for several months and has already appeared on their official webpage dressed in their kit.
Lambie has been signed as an eventual replacement for All Black legend Dan Carter‚ who is at the Parisian club.
“Playing for the team that I’ve supported all my life has been a dream come true and an absolute honour‚” Lambie said of his time at the Sharks.
“The decision to leave a place that will always remain home was not an easy one.
“However‚ after having a number of set-backs over the last few years‚ the thinking was to break the cycle and to go experience something different in a new environment.
“I would like to thank The Sharks and SA Rugby for their understanding and support.
“I would also like to thank all the people that have shown their love and support for me throughout my career so far.
“I have loved my time at The Sharks‚ and I leave with extremely fond memories.
“This is a fresh start for Kate [his wife] and I though‚ and we look forward to a change of scenery and an exciting new adventure in our lives.”
Sharks Team Doctor Alan Kourie confirmed that Lambie had fully recovered from his concussion symptoms.
“Patrick is fully recovered from his concussion sustained in May this year and has been for some time now.
“He has been training symptom free for the last two months while also enjoying activities he loves outside of the rugby setting‚ like golf and surfing.
“Our suggested time off for him to recover was between three-six months and he currently sits nicely in the middle of that period.
“Most importantly he is in a great mental space and he looks forward to playing rugby again‚ at the highest level.”
The elegant flyhalf made 56 Test appearances for the Springboks and also played in two tour matches.
“Patrick felt that he wanted a different challenge in his career‚” explained Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
“He has been loyal to the Springboks and has had done very well for his country.
“It is a big loss for us but we want to wish him well with the next chapter of his career.
“However‚ having played 56 Tests for the Springboks already‚ he is still eligible for future selection.”
Lambie made his Springbok debut on 6 November 2010 against Ireland in Dublin as a 20-year-old and he last featured for the Boks in the 27-13 defeat against Wales in Cardiff on 26 November 2016.
The versatile backline player has played most of his Test rugby at flyhalf‚ but also featured at fullback and once at wing for the Springboks.