United Rugby Championship

Former Bok skipper left in awe of Lukhanyo Am's class: 'He's wonderful to watch'

Lukhanyo Am. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Lukhanyo Am. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Former Springbok skipper Bob Skinstad was left in awe again of Lukhanyo Am's on-field authority after the past weekend's South African derbies in the United Rugby Championship.

The Boks' key midfielder and defensive organiser was at his best as he spearheaded the Sharks' 47-37 win over the Lions at Ellis Park, customarily making incisive contributions that the team-mates around him look good.

"Am was the best on field by a long way, but he was well supported by his front rankers and some lovely offloads," said Skinstad, who played 42 Tests and captained the national side in 12 of them.

"His ability to put a chip over the top at the right time, or a long pass to Aphelele Fassi and a long kick for Makazole Mapimpi really kept control of the game for the Sharks."

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In fact, Skinstad believes the Lions, hampered by what skipper Burger Odendaal said was easily fixable errors, could've mounted a winning comeback had it not been for Am's continued string-pulling.

"The Lions came back into it at one stage, but Am just kept enough control of that contest and it was wonderful to watch him. The outside backs in general really impressed me.

"It was enough to show that our players have the skills, speed and pace but also the ability to make those quality decisions at the right time." 

That ties in with the broader theme of the 45-year-old arguing that the two local derbies showcased enough evidence that the South African franchises might be able to score a bit more freely against overseas oposition later this season.

"I think this weekend showed that the South African teams will be able to score tries against any side from the Northern Hemisphere, which is what they’re going to need to do to be successful in this competition," said Skinstad.

"I think the teams will all be happy that they're on the right track on attack. They can maybe shore up a bit on defence, but if they score enough tries they’re going to be right in it. I'd give both matches an 8 out of 10 for attack and a 7 out of 10 for defence." 

The Lions host the Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday before the Sharks tackle the Stormers in Durban.

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