Cell C Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am spent a fair portion of the 2018 season off the field, sidelined by injury, but he’s back to full fitness and against the Emirates Lions in the Super Hero Sunday hit-out, showed that he’s back to his best form.
“It was nice to get stuck in again and I was happy with the way things went for me against the Lions, I’d missed about four months of game time, but my confidence was high building up to the game,” he explained.
“It went really well after all the hard work that we’ve put in during the pre-season.”
While the Cell C Sharks might have lost the game, as Am points out, the result was not all that mattered. It was an opportunity to give players a run, mix things up as far as personnel go, as well as try a few things outside of training sessions.
“We do try to implement what we’ve been training for in these pre-season games but we do take a few more risks than we ordinarily would because the consequences aren’t the same as for a Vodacom Super Rugby game.”
Taking risks on attack can pay off, and David Williams, the attack coach will be looking to blend risk with reward, with a need to balance what the team can do with what each opposition team brings.
“We’ve worked on a few things,” Am explains. “During the season we will face different teams which bring different challenges to our attack and defensive systems. David has pushed us to learn fast about adjusting week to week. He’s worked with our shape and the style we want to play during the tournament.”
Does that mean scoring more tries?
“Most definitely! Without tries, a team won’t win too many games I guess, so it’s something we work hard on as well.”
Two tough pre-season games against top notch opposition – the Lions this past Sunday and the Vodacom Bulls this Saturday afternoon – is exactly the kind of preparation the team needs, says Am.
“It’s really good to have quality opposition in these warm-up games, the standard of play in Super Rugby is very high and these games will provide a good measure of where we’re at and what we need to do going into the competition.”
Winning the Currie last year unearthed a number of young guns all intent on playing at a higher level which places pressure on last years incumbents to perform, or face being usurped by the ambitious youngsters.
“We have a big squad, a very talented one, and competition-wise we feed off each other. It’s a healthy way to remain motivated.”
The Cell C Sharks will host the Bulls at Ashton College in Ballito on Saturday at 2pm. A limited number of tickets are still available at The Shark Cage and Ashton reception.