Rugby World Cup: Star centre Lukhanyo Am joins Springboks as injury replacement before quarter-final

Lukhanyo Am.
Lukhanyo Am. Photo credit: Getty Images

Lukhanyo Am is fully fit and raring to go after being called up as an injury replacement for South Africa ahead of a potential Rugby World Cup quarter-final next weekend, with the centre admitting it was tough to watch from the sidelines.

Am has joined the squad after wing Makazole Mapimpi was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with a facial fracture sustained in the 49-18 Pool B victory over Tonga in Marseille on Monday (NZ time).

Ironically, Am provided the assist for Mapimpi's try in the 2019 World Cup final as the Springboks defeated England to lift the trophy, and has now seen the favour returned, under far less happy circumstances, four years on.

Lukhanyo Am and Springboks captain Siya Kolisi.
Lukhanyo Am and Springboks captain Siya Kolisi. Photo credit: Getty Images

He may not get the chance to play though as South Africa are not yet assured of a quarter-final place, though only a victory for Scotland over Ireland by 21 points or more on Sunday, in which both teams get a bonus-point, will stop them marching on.

"It's a good feeling to be back," said Am, who missed out on selection for the original squad with a knee injury. "It was frustrating having to follow the World Cup from home. It was as though something you love is taken away from you.

"I've been working hard on getting my fitness levels as high as possible, especially given the demands of international rugby.

"Training is obviously not the same as playing, but I knew it was vital to keep up to speed to be ready in case I received the call."

Am's lack of game-time will be a worry having not played any rugby since the Boks beat Argentina 24-13 in Buenos Aires on August 6.

It is a big ask for him to go straight into the matchday 23 for a World Cup knockout game, even if he is highly-regarded by the team management.

"The mental side is the most important in a situation such as that. I've been cleared to play, I'm fit, and if I make the match 23 in the next match, I'll be ready to do the job for the team," he insisted.

"It's my responsibility to get back into the swing of things as quickly as possible and to be ready to slot into the team if I'm called upon to do so."