Lukhanyo Am is expecting the Lions to adapt and challenge the Springboks at their own game in the second Test
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CAPE TOWN - Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am says they’re expecting the British & Irish Lions to change things up in their second Test of the Series at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
Looking at the team Lions chief Warren Gatland has named for the encounter, there are enough pointers to have us believe that challenging the Springboks at their own game at least had a hand in the three changes he’s made to the starting XV.
Mako Vunipola taking over from Rory Sutherland is a logical one considering how the England prop's superb second-half efforts in the scrum helped them negate that of the Boks’ replacement front-rowers and steadied their own set-piece.
Perhaps less expected was the change at scrumhalf, where Ali Price has had a strong campaign overall and also played a big role in the Boks’ second-half aerial woes.
Conor Murray, on the other hand, has not had the same impact, and if the Lions were again planning on going for contestable bombardment and testing the Boks with a wide game, dropping Price from the run-on side wouldn’t be your first guess.
In midfield, Chris Harris replacing Elliot Daly at outside centre isn’t too big a shock considering Harris’ form on this tour, while his physicality in contact and solid defence are certainly two factors that will come in handy against Jacques Nienaber’s team.
Speaking during the team announcement press conference, Am said that he feels the tourists are going to ‘adapt’ to what the Springboks presented to them.
“You can never know their plans, but I think we are very good at adapting and reading what is happening on the field,” he said.
“We obviously expect some sort of a change because of the personnel that they have. That’s something we’re preparing for and will be aware of during the game.”
The Boks were well in control in the first half and led 12-3 at the break, but the second half saw the Lions produce a game that the hosts just couldn’t handle, which resulted in a 22-17 victory for Gatland’s side.
“We went into the game to go and win it but unfortunately we didn’t get the result,” Am said.
“We knew how important the preparation was. Unfortunately, that got disrupted, and we kind of knew it would bite us towards the end of the game.”
Am also explained that his massive early smash on Elliot Daly last week was a conscious effort to try and lay down a physical marker against the Lions.
“It was quite intentional, setting the standards and try to stamp down the physicality that we were going to cause from minute one to minute 80,” Am said.
“As a team, we’ve always had this great defensive mindset and it’s something that we’ve been really good on and something we’ve been very proud of.
“I think this weekend it will be another physical battle.”
The second match of the three-Test Series kicks off at 6pm on Saturday.