Bok on six-two bench split: 'I’ll slot in wherever needed'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Even though the Springboks suffered a 23-35 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks, one man who has gripped the attention of the rugby fraternity is Lukhanyo Am.
Even in defeat Am showed all of his quality and delivered a magnificent performance which has many pundits labelling him the best player in the world.
Switching from centre to wing after only eight minutes of play, Am excelled, – scoring an impressive try by beating Will Jordan and Caleb Clarke to power over the line.
However, despite his heroic efforts, the Boks could not overturn a 10-15 deficit at the break and had to settle for the loss.
Speaking to reporters in the wake of the defeat, Am admitted the team was left gutted.
“We are gutted,” Am said, adding: “We wanted the win, but unfortunately the result didn’t go our way.
“We had a few opportunities, and we didn’t capitalise on them, and there were crucial moments in the game that didn’t go our way such as a penalty being reversed and being caught off-guard on defence.
“So, we will review our last two games and take stock of what we need to do going forward in the competition.”
The debated six-two split
One area of concern for Springboks is the six-two bench split after it was placed under pressure once again with an early backline injury to Jesse Kriel.
The wing had to leave the field after he tried to tackle Caleb Clarke, with the NZ wing’s high knee action leaving the Springbok defender dazed. Faf de Klerk suffered the same fate in the Round One clash in Nelspruit.
Kriel was replaced by Wille Le Roux, who moved to fullback. Damian Willemse was shifted to inside centre with Damian de Allende on his outside and Am was asked to cover the wing.
“With the 6-2 split we have in the team, as a player, you slot in where the team needs you at the time,” Am said.
“I’m a centre or a utility back and I’ll slot in wherever needed.
“As a team, we’ve managed to get continuity and the majority of the team has been together since 2018 and even prior to that. We’re starting to get the rewards from the style of play and combinations we have.”
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Looking at the upcoming test against Australia, Am said they were well aware of the challenge ahead, but hoped to bounce back strongly on tour.
The Boks are currently third on the Rugby Championship log with four points from two games.
They will face the Wallabies in Adelaide and Sydney.
The team will then take on Argentina in Buenos Aires before the Boks return to South Africa for their closing match of the competition against Los Pumas in Durban on Saturday, September 24.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board and have a look at the opportunities we missed and the things we feel we need to improve on,” Am said.
“Australia are a quality side and they have experience, so it is going to be another exciting opportunity for our team.
“We haven’t beaten the Wallabies in Australia since 2013 if I’m not mistaken, so we’ll sit down as a team and see where we can improve.”