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VIDEO: How Lukhanyo helped Jesse be the best

WATCH as double World Cup-winning Springbok centre Jesse Kriel explains to the Boks Office crew how Lukhanyo Am helped him reach new heights on the playing field during last year’s World Cup in France.


Kriel was the Boks’ first-choice No.13 throughout the tournament after Am failed to make the final 33-man squad due to a knee injury he suffered in a warm-up match against Argentina.

Am eventually rejoined the squad at the end of the pool stages after Makazole Mapimpi was ruled out of the tournament with a fractured cheekbone.

The Sharks captain did not see any action in the play-offs, but he still played a significant role in helping Kriel prepare for opponents in some tough midfield battles.

In conversation with Boks Office host Hanyani Shimange and fellow guests Jean de Villers and Schalk Burger, Kriel opened up on his relationship with Am.

The story continues below…

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“A lot of people like to make it up as No.1 and No.2 [in the pecking order], but I think Lukhanyo and I share a really special relationship.

“We are really good mates on and off the field. That’s the special thing in the squad – guys actually want the best for each other and it is very rare in professional sport.

“During the World Cup, when he came back, he was sending me personal messages on the opposition No.13 that I was playing against.

“He was mimicking opposition outside centres in training. He was trying to be the best [France centre] Gael Fickou he could be during the week.


“It’s like he’s giving you pictures in training on what the opposition would present.”

Kriel said Rassie Erasmus had a huge role to play in that approach between teammates competing for the same position in the Bok squad.

“That’s the thing that Rassie always speaks about. It’s about having the right people and not necessarily the best people.

“He said to us many times that there are ‘better rugby players than you guys all around the world’.

“However, he always speaks about having the right people in the team. I think that’s very important because when you get to squad selection, obviously you are disappointed you are not playing but you understand that you have a role to play.

“I think everyone is so clear on their roles, whether you are in the team or you are not.

“It’s just about understanding and putting your ego to the side and understanding what’s best for the team.

“It’s just about understanding that there is something bigger than yourself and you are playing for a country.

“I know it sounds like a cliche, but I think we really got something special here and we speak about it a lot as a team as well.

“We constantly remind each other of the importance of wearing the Springbok jersey. That is quite powerful in itself.”

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