Am tips Boks to defend World Cup

  • By Kate Nokwe

  • 3rd December 2022

Am tips Boks to defend World Cup

Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am believes they can defend the Rugby World Cup in France next year.

Champions, South Africa could become only the second team to achieve this feature after New Zealand beat Australia in the final in eight-years ago to recapture their 2011 crown. 

Speaking to SABC Sport at the launch of the Makazole Mapimpi Foundation in Johannesburg, Am is not ruling out the possibility of the Boks joining the exclusive club. 

“It's something we have not done in the past, but we don't want to wait for another 12 years for us to win another World Cup. We definitely want to go there and go defend the World Cup. How things are right now, the IRB (now World Rugby) rankings makes thing very interesting and anyone in the top 10 can basically take it. 

So, it's going to be challenging and it's going to ask a lot from us, but I think with what you have on the team, the team that you have, and the support that you have behind us, will keep us going. It's definitely not impossible," he said. 

Reflecting on the year 2022, Am insisted he is in high spirits despite his season being cut short by a knee injury sustained in the first Rugby Championship Test match between South Africa and Australia in August. 

The Boks finished behind the All Blacks in that tournament, before losing to Ireland and France in the End-Year Tour of the Northern Hemisphere. They turned the tour around with victories against Italy and 2019 Rugby World Cup finalists England. Am, who had to watch from the sidelines, admits he was disappointed by not being on the field. However, is pleased with how his teammates capped off the year. 

"I know (injuries) come with the job. Watching my boys play, and for a change being on the other side of the TV was a bit different, and also a bit challenging. 

(That said) I'm very proud of where were are as a country, and what we've managed to do building up to the 2023 season," he claimed

Am underlined his status as one of the best players in world rugby with a Men’s Player of the Year nomination alongside 2021 winner Antoine Dupont of France, and the Ireland duo of Johnny Sexton and Josh van der Flier, who won the title. 

For the 2019 Rugby World Cup though, just being in that conversation of “best” is beyond anything he could’ve imagined. 

"Being mentioned in the world's best rugby player in the world was never even in my wildest dreams. Maybe as I grew on the rugby ladder, I wanted to fulfil my potential and be the best I can be at the moment at whatever stage I'm on."