Rugby Championship

Lukhanyo Am on why it's different facing the All Blacks: 'They bring the best out in me'

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The Springboks have their work cut out. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)
The Springboks have their work cut out. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)
  • Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am said playing against the All Blacks brings the best out of him.
  • Saturday's Rugby Championship clash, the 100th between the teams, will be Am's fourth Test against the All Blacks.
  • Am said they need to be better than they were against Australia.

Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am said playing against the All Blacks brings out the best in him and Saturday's 100th Test between the teams in Townsville won't be any different.

Am has played in three Springbok/All Black Tests with a win, draw and loss in each of those matches.

They have mattered to him, in the same way the upcoming Rugby Championship game matters. If the Boks win, which they need to do handsomely, they'll stay in the hunt for their title defence.

Am said the All Blacks can and will punish you if you're slightly off your game. The Boks go into the game on the back of consecutive losses against Australia

"This game is important to me and whenever I don the green and gold, its always a big game," Am said.

"Playing against the All Blacks is a privilege and the All Black rivalry is the biggest one that we have in the southern hemisphere.

"They're a group that plays well and they bring the best out in me. They're an excellent group of players and if you're not on your game, you'll have a long night."

Whenever we play the All Blacks, everybody raises their game because of the excellence they generally display," Am said.

The All Blacks haven't displayed any significant weaknesses, but also haven't been thoroughly tested by Australia and Argentina.

What the Boks have that the other opponents don't is a fearsome and functional pack. That the Boks haven't been able to get the best out of their pack has been of concern.

They had dominance they couldn't convert in the first Test against Australia and were inexplicably matched and outsmarted in the second Test in Brisbane.

Am conceded that they need to be better because the All Blacks know how to capitalise on opportunities.

"We need to be better and also use our opportunities better than we have in recent weeks. We also know what they bring to the party and they like dictating terms," Am said.

"We'll have to be very sharp defensively and we have to be at our best because we don't have much choice but to be excellent.

"We all know how they play and we have no option but to be at our best, but we know we don't have to defend for the whole game.

"We'll have to come up with our own plans and find ways to unlock their defence on Saturday."

Teams:

All Blacks

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Ardie Savea (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Quinn Tupaea

Springboks

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn

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