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Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am expecting different approach from Lions this weekend

Am says the world champions will need to able to adapt on the pitch during the second Test.

Lukhanyo Am.
Lukhanyo Am.
Image: PA

LUKHANYO AM HOPES the Springboks will benefit from getting 80 minutes of Test rugby under their belts last week as they look to recover from the first Test defeat to the British and Irish Lions.

A number of South Africa players went into the game with very little recent gametime to their name as Covid caused major disruption to the Boks’ preparations for the series. 

The Springboks dominated much of the first half in Cape Town last Saturday, taking a 12-3 lead at half-time.

However a much-improved second-half performance saw the Lions take control of the contest to win the opening Test 22-17.

Some of the Springbok players appeared to visibly tire as the game wore on, with Am admitting match fitness was an issue due to their disrupted preparations for the Test series.

“We went into the game to go and win it but unfortunately we didn’t get the result,” Am said.

“We knew how important the prep was. Unfortunately that got disrupted, and we kind of knew it would bite us towards the end of the game.”

Am also explained that his early hit on Elliot Daly last week was a conscious effort to try lay down a physical marker against Warren Gatland’s tourists.

The Springbok centre smashed Daly with a massive hit with less than three minutes on the clock as the hosts looked to bring a physical edge from the start, with Am’s tackle resulting in an early turnover and putting the Lions on the backfoot.

“It was quite intentional, setting the standards and try to stamp down the physicality that we were going to cause from minute one to minute 80,” Am said.

south-africa-british-and-irish-lions-rugby Am tackles Elliot Daly during the first Test in Cape Town. Source: Halden Krog

“As a team, we’ve always had this great defensive mindset and it’s something that we’ve been really good on and something we’ve very proud of.

“I think this weekend it will be another physical battle.” 

Unsurprisingly, both sides have made changes to their starting teams ahead of Saturday’s second Test in Cape Town, with the Springboks bringing Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Jasper Wiese into their pack.

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Warren Gatland has also opted for three changes, with scrum-half Conor Murray, Scotland centre Chris Harris and England prop Mako Vunipola all coming into the team.

Sharks centre Am plays an important defensive role for the Boks but had a quiet game by his own standards in the first Test, with just four tackles made and two carries, and is hoping to make a bigger impact this weekend as the world champions look to keep the series alive.

And the 27-year-old says they are expecting a different approach from the Lions this Saturday following their slow start to the opening Test.

“You can never know their plans, but I think we are very good at adapting and reading what is happening on the field.

“We obviously expect some sort of a change because of the personnel that they have. That’s something we’re preparing for and will be aware of during the game.”

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Ciarán Kennedy

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