Centurion – Lukhanyo Am’s nomination for World Rugby Player of Year has been criticised by many due to his lack of game time as he battles injury, but the statistics show that even with his limited displays on the international stage he has been an absolute standout.
According to OptaJonny, the 93kg Am averaged 1.2 line breaks per Test for the Springboks this year. It meant he was the only centre from a Tier 1 nation to have averaged more than one break per Test. He also averaged a total of 56 metres gained per Test.
The 28-year-old Am has played just five of the Boks’ Test matches this year, but in those clashes he made massive contributions to the team.
The Bok playmaker was nominated alongside Irishmen Josh van der Flier and Johnny Sexton, and France’s Antoine Dupont for the award.
1.2 – Lukhanyo Am has averaged 1.2 line breaks per game for the @Springboks in 2022, the only centre from a Tier 1 nation to have averaged over one per Test this year, and has also gained more metres per Test than any other centre this year (56m/game, min.5 games). Incisive. https://t.co/9TOeeucjLe pic.twitter.com/lFk5K7kc9X
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) November 16, 2022
Am was a mainstay in the Rugby Championship for South Africa, but it was towards the end of the competition that he picked up a season-ending knee injury.
His performances even during the Bok defeats to New Zealand in Johannesburg, and later against Australia in Adelaide were widely praised.
SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus led the tributes for Am.
“He’s just a really special player,” said Erasmus on Tuesday.
“The first time that coach Jacques (Nienaber) and I saw him was at Border club trials and he stood out.
“He just stood out, I think he was playing with a pair of takkies. I don’t think he had boots on. We phoned an agent from there and told him to have a look at this guy as he won’t get the exposure.
“It’s a pity he couldn’t come and showcase that talent here, but we’re very proud of him. He had to fight hard to get into teams and structures.”
“On the field he is just a fantastic player.”