Am to up the ante against All Blacks

Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am is determined to make a statement against the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship clash between the old foes in Auckland on Saturday.

The 30-year-old played in South Africa’s resounding 43-12 victory over Australia at Loftus Versfeld last week, and will line up alongside his regular partner, Damian de Allende, in midfield at Mount Smart Stadium.

After a knee injury sidelined him for the latter stages of the 2022 Rugby Championship and end-of-year tour, Am aims to prove his worth as the world champions ramp up their title-defense preparations.

Speaking in the build-up to this weekend’s clash, he told reporters: “We played well last week, but there were some things we could do better. It will be a completely different challenge and it is of great importance that we create opportunities and that our finishing is good.

“I feel like I’m in a good space and I’m getting another opportunity this week. For me, I just want to serve the team where I am needed. I want to get my confidence [and game] to where I was. Overall I am happy with where I’m at.”

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The impact of South Africa’s second season out of Super Rugby, with local franchises competing in the Vodacom URC and EPCR competitions, will make it interesting to see how the Boks and the All Blacks fare against one another this year.

Am added: “In the northern hemisphere the game is more technical and there is a greater focus on area advantage, while the pace is much faster in Super Rugby.

“We will focus more on our strengths; our set piece works and the forwards creating opportunities for us as backs and try to capitalise on that.

“There’s not much we can change, we will just focus on what we are good at and make that better. When we arrived here, we immediately started training and it gives us peace of mind that we have approached a Test against the All Blacks with two groups before [in 2019].

“We also had a few training camps, so we had enough time together as a group. Hopefully we can start on Saturday with the momentum of the past weekend.”

Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

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