De Klerk: Lukhanyo brings a lot of calm as captain

Faf de Klerk has hailed the leadership qualities of Lukhanyo Am who will lead the South Africa A side against the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday in place of Siya Kolisi.

Erasmus: I’m going to beg for second SA A game

The live-wire scrumhalf says, in a team of leaders, Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am will make a fitting captain because of the calmness he brings.

“I think the great thing about the side on Wednesday is that there are a few youngsters but there are also guys with experience – Eben is vice-captain, you’ve got Morne Steyn at 10, Damian [de Allende] who has played a lot at 12, Lukhanyo to organise things and Willie in the backfield.

“I think the nice thing about Lukhanyo is that he doesn’t try to steal the show, he’ll always lean on those guys. He’s a great guy to have on the field, he is very calm … so if guys are going over the edge a bit he draws them back.

“That calmness is a massive thing. He’s been having a great season at the Sharks, so hopefully we can see some of that magic on Wednesday.”

Looking ahead to the match but with one eye on the upcoming Test series, De Klerk was asked whether the selection of Conor Murray as Lions tour captain (and therefore likely the starting scrumhalf) would give away how the Lions might look to play.

De Klerk, however, stressed that the Lions have a versatile backline at their disposal with the ability to play a variety of styles.

“Obviously [Murray] has played a lot of Test matches and has a few Lions series behind him, so to have that type of guy in the team is great, but Warren Gatland can change his backline any way he likes to. He can play Farrell at 12, play Farrell at 10, he can change the midfield.

“Obviously, Murray has a very good kicking game, which I think is going to be very important in these games going forward but there’s such a different array of players in the backline that can pretty much change the whole dynamic of how they want to play.

“So, it’s not going to be up to one guy to decide how they are going to play – there’s going to be a bigger challenge across the backline than just Conor.”

With so many of the Springboks based in the UK and Ireland there is a sense that they may have an advantage when it comes to understanding the Lions players they come up against week in, week out for their domestic clubs.

“We’ve played against a lot of these guys [Lions players], we have a bit more knowledge about them and hopefully that will show in the games ahead.

“Most of the time we don’t need to do a lot, the coaching staff give us a lot of knowledge about the players but just to have some personal experience [against] the players, does help a bit.”

When asked whether the Boks would be physically ready for the coming Test series, Faf de Klerk was emphatic:

“Physicality is a part of our side, it’s our nature. You can look at the guys across the board, they don’t mind a physical battle. If they haven’t played in a year or if they play every weekend, they enjoy the tough stuff.

“I think they’ll be even more hungry for it because there hasn’t been a lot of it.”