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Lukhanyo Am: Boks must expect furious backlash from All Blacks

Lukhanyo Am and Andre Esterhuizen arrive for the Springboks training session at Numbi Primary School in Hazyview, Mpumalanga on July 27 2022.
Lukhanyo Am and Andre Esterhuizen arrive for the Springboks training session at Numbi Primary School in Hazyview, Mpumalanga on July 27 2022.
Image: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images

The Springboks must ensure they deliver their “A-game” for the full 80 minutes against a wounded All Blacks team in Mbombela next Saturday, SA’s dazzling back division star Lukhanyo Am says.

After a hard-fought series win over Wales, the Boks face the All Blacks in Mbombela and then in Johannesburg a week later, before embarking on a three-match tour to Australia and Argentina.

A capacity 40,000 crowd is expected to pack Mbombela Stadium to watch the Boks take on an All Blacks reeling from a series defeat against Ireland.

With their backs to the wall, Am says the Boks will have to be at their best to repel a furious onslaught from the New Zealanders in the opening game of the Rugby Championship.

“When you face the All Blacks, they are one of the teams where you have to ensure you are on your A-game all the time,” Am said.

“We all know we will be facing a different threat compared to what we faced against Wales. The Boks are doing their prep and we trust that will put us in a better place for the Test.”

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said his team would be facing a New Zealand side that boasts a good skill set and a powerful pack.

“It will probably be a bit different to the challenge we faced against Wales.

“I think if you look at New Zealand and the athletes and skill set they have it will probably be a game built around a lot of continuity.

“Also, maybe moving the ball around a bit and they also do not shy away from set-piece battles, which they showed against Ireland.

“So I think it is going to be a blend of set-piece battles and probably a bit more continuity compared to what we saw in the Wales series.

“In saying that, I thought Wales kept the ball alive against us and kept good continuity going. I think it is going to be a challenge like that.

“Obviously, not having played any rugby when Wales were our first game for 2022, you almost get a bit of a marker as to where we are. Then we tried to build during the Wales series.

“We were by no means perfect against Wales. There is a lot of stuff we have to work on and improve.

“We had a nice review on Monday and had a reality check of where we are and what we have to improve. The team looked at what goals we set in the Wales series and where we excelled.

“In some instances we thought we showed some good growth and in others we did not show as much growth. So at the moment it's about fixing our own stuff.”

Nienaber would not be drawn on whether experienced campaigners Duane Vermeulen and Frans Steyn will be considered for the opening game against the All Blacks.

The pair missed the 2-1 series win against Wales due to respective knee and hamstring injuries and the Boks’ medical staff will monitor their progress over the coming weeks.

“Duane has not had a rugby session with us as yet, so I think it would be tough to get him in the mix. Frans is in training sessions,” the coach said.

TimesLIVE


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