High-flying Lukhanyo Am reluctant to accept personal plaudits: 'I'm gutted about the result'

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  • Springbok Lukhanyo Am, who was lauded for his performance, was loath to accept personal plaudits in a losing cause to the All Blacks.
  • Am was forced to play right wing after Jesse Kriel's early concussion injury, which he did with aplomb.
  • Having scored one of the two Bok tries at Ellis Park, Am was denied an amazing try assist for Makazole Mapimpi and another touchdown.

Lukhanyo Am played what could justifiably be regarded as his best game in a Springbok jersey but defeat to the All Blacks on Saturday soured the moment.

The outside centre was moved to right wing after Jesse Kriel's early concussion injury at the hands (or legs, rather) of All Black behemoth Caleb Clarke.

Am not only neutralised the Clarke threat but posed the biggest danger to the visitors in the defeat at Ellis Park, scoring one of the two Bok tries while he had a hand in many chances they created.

Bok Ratings | Majestic Am ... but team take punch to guts

But Am, who was lauded for the performance, was loath to accept personal plaudits in a losing cause, although he agreed that he is in his best career nick.

"Yes, I feel like this season I'm playing my best rugby," Am said.

"In each game, you go into it to give your best … and tonight's (Saturday night's) game was good for me but, as a team, coaches tell us we don't judge performances on results alone.

"We look at the processes we do and the way we play. I tried my best to adjust from No 13 to wing and, as a backline, we tried to move the ball when the chance came.

"With the 6-2 split we have in the team, as a player, you slot in where the team needs you at the time. I'm a centre or a utility back and I'll slot in wherever needed.

"As a team, we've managed to get continuity and the majority of the team has been together since 2018 and even prior to that.

"We're starting to get the rewards from the style of play and combinations we have."

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 13: Lukhanyo A
Lukhanyo Am. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
Gallo Images

Am created a midfield break and try assist for Makazole Mapimpi in the second half that was disallowed for a Jaden Hendrikse obstruction in the build-up.

While that was debatable, it also seemed dubious that referee Luke Pearce deemed the rip on Ox Nche as a knock-on in the first half, which would have allowed Am to score.

Am also got held up early in the encounter following Pieter-Steph du Toit's bursting run.

Am, however, would not be consoled by his own showing following the 35-23 loss to New Zealand, a team they beat comfortably in Mbombela.

"I'm really gutted about the result we got; we were going for the win but, unfortunately, it didn't go our way," he said.

"We played really well, even though the result didn't go our way. We created a couple of opportunities.

"Time teaches us that it won't be your turn all the time. Today (Saturday), it was New Zealand's turn; they managed to defuse our kicking game and took the opportunities they got.

"The previous week, we won the ball back on our kicks but they closed us down in that area last week. The game then became open, which always favours them.

"We also took a long time to adjust to their game."

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