Sam Lane’s great pedigree will be tested fully if he makes one of the most rushed and round-about Super Rugby debuts for the injury-ravaged Queensland Reds on Saturday night.
A South African Under-20 triallist just a year ago, Lane is in line to be the Reds playmaker against the Western Force at nib Stadium after answering an SOS from the defending champions.
The son of former Wallabies and Queensland centre Tim Lane, the 21-year-old five-eighth flew from Sydney to Perth to join up with the Reds on Monday after signing a short-term contract.
With the Reds missing five injured playmakers, Lane is in the mix to be thrust into the No.10 hot seat in a patched-up backline that could feature No.8 Radike Samo in the centres.
But that is what the youngster, better known as a boom prospect in Cape Town than Australia, would prefer rather than being eased in off the bench, according to his father.
“I asked him when I was taking him to the airport and he said ‘I’d probably prefer to start because you know you would be on off the bat and having (Wallabies halfback Will) Genia inside you and those others outside will get me through it’,” Tim Lane told AAP.
“I think he’s more a 10 than a 12 but he’s also played a bit of 12 with Western Province.”
After a ruptured ACL ruined his hopes of playing for the South Africa U21s as well as a likely Super Rugby debut for the Cape Town-based Stormers, Lane turned his back on a Western Province contract last November to join the ARU’s national academy in Sydney.
He was set to play under his father, an assistant coach to Rod Macqueen when the Wallabies won the 1999 World Cup, for Manly this season and was an impressive performer at No.10 in a trial against Eastwood on the weekend.
But with Mike Harris (hamstring), Ben Lucas (hamstring) and Jono Lance (broken leg) all joining Quade Cooper (knee) and UJ Seuteni (hamstring) on the sidelines following Queensland’s disastrous two-match tour of South Africa, coach Ewen McKenzie called.
Lance will be out of action for at least three months with his lower-leg fracture suffered in Sunday’s 61-8 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria and Lane will be a fixture in the Reds squad until he returns.
His South African background was a result of Tim spending two and a half years as a Springboks assistant coach as well as a failed stint with the Johannesburg-based Cats.
“I was actually keen for him to stay in South Africa another year because I thought he would get a taste of Super 15 with the Stormers,” Tim said.
“But he missed family and friends and his home environment, and he said ‘I’ll get my chance if I come back and play well’.
“It’s all come about quickly but it’s very exciting.”
The Reds have also lost hooker Saia Faingaa (ankle syndesmosis) but there’s strong hope prop Ben Daley (suspected broken thumb) will play the Force.