The Shark has become a mainstay in the South Africa midfield as well as a leader
Who is Lukhanyo Am: Ten things you should know about the Springboks centre
Lukhanyo Am was one of the standout performers in South Africa’s World Cup triumph in 2019 and has become known for his leadership skills.
The centre is captain of the Sharks franchise and was also selected as captain of the South Africa A side to take on the British & Irish Lions 2021 squad.
Ten things you should know about Lukhanyo Am
1. Lukhanyo Am was born on 28 November 1993 in King William’s Town, which is about 60km from East London in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.
This is also the birthplace of Makhaya Ntini, the former South African cricketer, and Steve Biko, the anti-apartheid campaigner.
2. Brought up by his mother, Zukiswa, in Zwelitsha township, Am attended Hoërskool De Vos Malan High School.
It was not in the top rank of South African rugby schools so he never played in the famous Craven Week or in age-grade international rugby. As a youngster he used to peer over fences to watch elite schools playing.
3. At school Am started his rugby-playing life as a lock before moving to centre at U13 level.
He played for Border Bulldogs, had a year at Falcons before moving back to Border and then onto Southern Kings.
He was picked up by the Sharks in 2016 and was named captain of the Durban-based franchise in 2020.
4. Am’s mother tried to persuade her son to play soccer – the family come from a soccer community – and none of his family had played rugby, but Am was always wearing green and gold colours when he was a child, even it was not a Springbok jersey.
He said: “I loved rugby from a kid, but my mom told me I had to play soccer. I told her ‘No, ma. I like rugby. One day you will see me in these colours’.”
5. He made it to Springbok colours despite missing part of the middle finger on his left hand.
He made his Test debut as a replacement against Wales in 2017.
6. Am spent a pre-season with Saracens as part of the South African Rugby and British High Commission Rugby Exchange Programme in 2013.
When he signed for the Sharks, he was the first player to graduate from the scheme which helped young players from disadvantaged backgrounds.
7. In 2013, Am was picked for the South African Barbarians squad to play against Saracens. In the game, at the Honourable Artillery Company ground in London, Saracens won 19-0.
He played for the original Barbarians on their 2019 tour of Europe and Brazil.
8. The centre was picked for South Africa A in their two-Test home series against England Saxons in 2016, coming off the bench in the first match, a 32-24 defeat, and starting the second, in George, a 29-26 defeat.
Prop Thomas du Toit, lock RG Snyman and hooker Malcolm Marx were also on duty that night for South Africa A.
9. Pundits talk about experience winning Rugby World Cups but Am had only nine caps when the 2019 tournament in Japan kicked off.
He started six of South Africa’s seven games in RWC 2019. The only game he missed was the pool match against Canada. He also delivered the pass that put Makazole Mapimpi away for the Boks’ first try in the final against England.
10. In June 2021, Forbes Magazine Africa named Am and Cheslin Kolbe in their 30 Under 30 list for the year. This recognised the hardships they had overcome to be successful in their chosen field. Siya Kolisi made the list the previous year.
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