Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am is making a positive strides since recovering from a cheekbone fracture, which kept him out of the Springbok squad in June.
Lukhayno Am was one of the standout South African performers during Super Rugby in 2017, impressing on attack and defence at outside centre for the Sharks throughout the competition. It’s the 23-year-old’s second season of Super Rugby, after featuring for the Southern Kings during his debut campaign in 2016.
Even Springbok coach Allister Coetzee made mention of Am’s notable form, emphasising his potential to make his Test debut. Unfortunately, the 23-year-old suffered a cheekbone fracture head of the Springboks’ Test series against France in June, which sidelined him for four weeks.
After missing out on time in the national squad, Am still returned to the field in high spirits in July.
“Injuries are part of the game. It was unfortunate timing, but you learn to accept it. You have to take the good with the bad,” Am told MyPlayers. “I was disappointed to miss out on being part of the Springbok squad, but was more determined to recover from my injury and make a positive return. I still worked hard off the field to ensure I didn’t lose any ground. I was happy to make my return in top shape.”
The Sharks managed to qualify for the Super Rugby quarter-finals. The Durban side surprisingly had competition favourites the Lions on the back foot during the play-off in Johannesburg, but a late Ruan Combrinck penalty secured a 23-21 win for the hosts.
Despite the defeat, Am was proud of the team’s achievements.
“We have many new and young players in the team, who would’ve benefitted from this year’s Super Rugby experience. We are busy growing a great team culture, which the players are embracing,” said Am. “We’ll use the Currie Cup as a springboard for a better Super Rugby campaign in 2018.”
While this season will be remembered as Am’s breakthrough year at the Sharks, the player who hails from Kings William’s Town in the Eastern Cape has enjoyed a remarkable rise through the rugby ranks since making his professional rugby debut for the Border U19s in 2012.
In addition to his two Super Rugby seasons, he played for South Africa ‘A’ against the England Saxons in 2015. He also spent four months at English club Saracens during SA Rugby’s exchange programme in 2012, while he’s played for the Valke and Border in the Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup during the earlier parts of his career.
“I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved over the years. It’s all about opportunity,” said Am. “I’m very grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me and I plan to make the most of everything else that comes my way in the near future.
“There are many players from the Border region, who can also achieve great things if they are offered the same opportunities. They just need to be offered the chance to prove themselves at higher levels.”
While Am hopes to continue playing an influential role for the Sharks over the next few seasons, he does have one clear goal in mind.
“I definitely want to play in the green and gold jersey. I want to earn my opportunity to play for the Springboks,” said Am. “It’s been my third game for the Sharks since recovering from injury and I’m feeling good. I hope I can do enough to earn another call-up soon.”
By Gareth Duncan