Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

Am ready to do Bok job

- MIKE GREENAWAY mike.greenaway@inl.co.za

LUKHANYO Am says he is a loaded gun ready to fire should the Springboks qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals following tonight's tumultuous Pool B finale between Ireland and Scotland.

The South Africans are highly likely to go through, and if and when that is confirmed, the recalled Am is hungry to make a difference after a “weird” period watching the team on television.

Am missed the initial 33-man World Cup selection because of a knee injury, and was put on standby only to be called up as a replacemen­t for injured Sharks teammate Makazole Mapimpi, who fractured his cheekbone last week against Tonga.

“It's a good feeling to be back,” Am said from the team training base in Toulon yesterday.

“It's special to be part of this group. It was frustratin­g being injured and having to follow the World Cup from home. It was as though something you love is taken away from you.

“But I've been working hard, and I'm very fortunate to have been called up to the squad.”

Am last played in the Boks' defeat of Argentina in Buenos Aries on August 5, but he says he has been putting in the hard yards on the training field.

“I've been working hard on my running and getting my fitness levels as high as possible in the last few weeks, especially given the demands of internatio­nal rugby,” said Am, who has been working out with the Sharks in Durban.

“Training is obviously not the same as playing a game, but I knew it was vital to keep up to speed to be ready, in case I received the call.

“When you are on standby, you have to be loaded and ready at all times, so I made sure I was switched on mentally and ensured that I was ready physically as well.”

Am said the mental part of the waiting game was more taxing than the on-field training.

“The mental side is the most important in the situation I have been in. But I've been cleared to play, I'm fit, and if I make the match-23 in the next match, I'll be ready to do the job for the team. I'm ready to fire.”

Early this week coach Jacques Nienaber said that a player of Am's class does not need as much game-time as others. The coach's confidence in Am's ability to hit the ground running suggests that he will reclaim his No

13 jersey at the expense of caretaker Jesse Kriel.

“It's my responsibi­lity to get back into the swing of things as quickly as possible, and to be ready to slot into the team if I'm called upon to do so,” the 29-year-old said.

Am admitted that while watching the team play from afar was weird, he enjoyed seeing his teammates in action in France, where they defeated Scotland, Romania and Tonga to all but qualify for a quarter-final.

“It was weird (watching on television), because I know how things are

in camp and the plans that are made around the opposition, but it was also beautiful to watch the team play from a different perspectiv­e, while also preparing to possibly be part of the team.”

The Boks returned to the training field on Wednesday after two days off, and followed that up with training sessions on Thursday and yesterday, where they continued to put the groundwork in place for a possible quarter-final spot.

The team will have today off and will resume training tomorrow if they advance to the top eight.

 ?? ?? ‘IT’S a good feeling to be back,’ Lukhanyo Am said from the Springbok training base in Toulon yesterday.
‘IT’S a good feeling to be back,’ Lukhanyo Am said from the Springbok training base in Toulon yesterday. BackpagePi­x | STEVE HAAG SPORTS

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