Am may give Bok coach selection headache for quarter end

Henry

Springbok assistant coach Felix Jones says center Lukhanyo Am is ready to play in the quarter-finals of the World Cup rugby tournament – should the Boks get through.

The 29-year-old Am was called up on Monday as a replacement for the injured Makazile Mapimpi, just in time for the quarter-finals during the weekend of 14 and 15 October.

The Springboks are not playing this weekend.

Ireland and Scotland face off in Paris on Saturday and it just might mean that the reigning world champions are eliminated. For that, however, Scotland must beat Ireland by 21 or more points and both teams must get a bonus point.

“He (Am) will be considered just like anyone else and we will base a large part of the decision on what happens at practice. We will also consider what happens in the games leading up to it,” says Jones.

“We will see how he does and performs over the next two weeks at training.”

Am made the last of his 35 Test appearances in August. He suffered a knee injury and was left out of the team for the World Cup. However, the Sharks player only missed one game in the Springboks’ march to the World Cup four years ago.

“Fortunately, Lukhanyo is a very experienced player and he has been part of the group for many years,” says Jones.

“I think everyone will agree: When Lukhanyo is at his best, he can fit into almost any team.

“Lukhanyo was involved in all our orientation camps, all our training sessions, right up to the point where we were about to leave for the World Cup, or just the week or two before.

“Hopefully he will be informed of how things are going here.”

Gregor Townsend’s side have not been able to beat Ireland by more than 21 points since 2001 and have lost their last eight Test matches against Ireland. However, the Scots rallied after an opening defeat against the Springboks and beat Tonga and Romania.

“We just want to get through,” says Jones, a former Irish full-back.

“You can probably say it looks like Ireland are going to be the favourites. Scotland is excellent. I think it’s going to be a bitterly tough game.”