In a snippet from the latest edition of SA Rugby magazine, former South Africa captain Jean de Viiliers explains why Lukhanyo Am has been so crucial to the Springboks and Sharks’ success.
Am’s ability to visualise and execute has been patent in the early rounds of this year’s Super Rugby tournament. On several occasions, the outside centre has put teammates into space or made an intercept to set up a try at the other side of the park.
Former Bok captain Jean de Villiers, who played both midfield positions over the course of his decorated career and boasted a similar ability to intercept at crucial moments, is well placed to comment on what sets Am apart.
‘Lukhanyo didn’t receive enough credit in the wake of the World Cup win. His all-round contribution was nothing short of magnificent,’ said De Villiers.
‘What I like about him is that he isn’t afraid to commit, whether he’s attacking the line, going for the intercept or taking the contact. We’ve also seen how potent he can be at the breakdown in terms of winning the ball back for his side.
‘His defensive reads are so good. Jaque Fourie used to look after that No 13 channel in a similar manner. It makes the world of difference to your defensive system when you have guys like that in the mix. Lukhanyo is a guy who sums up the situation very quickly, and he doesn’t hesitate to act.
‘That’s what all the special players have in common,’ stressed De Villiers. ‘If I can put it this way: it’s not just that they see a different picture, it’s that they see the whole picture and can determine what will happen next.
‘For example, Lukhanyo will look up and in an instant he will see which of the opposition players are out of position and where there is a weakness that can be exploited on attack.
‘It’s the same on defence. He can sum up very quickly where the opposition attack is going to strike and is good at communicating that to his teammates. It’s a gift, but there’s no doubt that the best players will refine this ability the more they play at the highest level.’
*The full interview with Am is available in our April edition of SA Rugby magazine, which is now on sale. During this period of lockdown, we hope you are able to get your hands on the latest copy, but we will continue to bring you the best possible content. You can also subscribe here
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