United Rugby Championship: Neil Powell delighted with Lukhanyo Am, Rohan Janse van Rensburg combination

Neil Powell Sharks director of rugby 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Neil Powell Sharks director of rugby 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell has revealed that he is impressed by the blossoming centre partnership between experienced Springbok duo Lukhanyo Am and Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Am and Janse van Rensburg combined in the Sharks’ 37-10 triumph over the Lions on December 23 before starting together in Saturday’s 47-20 win against the Bulls.

In fine form

Janse van Rensburg was in fine form in the latter match as he scored a brace of tries with the victory elevating the Sharks up to fifth position on the United Rugby Championship table.

Am is back in action after spending three months on the sidelines with a knee injury while Janse van Rensburg made his return after serving a three-match suspension following a red card against Leinster in October.

“The two of them had two good performances in a row,” Powell told Sport24.

“They are starting to find each other and to feed off each other. But this competition is so long and there are so many matches, especially with the [Champions Cup] games in between as well, that you’ll have to manage your squad well.

“We’ve still got another two or three centres in Ben Tapuai, Francois Venter and Murray Koster.

“So, it’s really important to manage them well to have them fresh and ready when it comes to the knockout stages in April and May.”

Apart from Am and Janse van Rensburg, the Sharks were boosted by the inclusion of fellow Boks Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth, Ox Nche, Grant Williams, Curwin Bosch and Siya Kolisi, who all delivered impressive performances against the Bulls.

Makazole Mapimpi, Thomas du Toit, Sikumbuzo Notshe and Jaden Hendrikse were the other Boks named in the Sharks’ matchday squad against the Bulls and Powell said it’s important to manage the all the players’ workload.

The Sharks are preparing to face Connacht in Galway this weekend and Powell said the competition for places in the team lifts the standards.

“We will give the guys opportunities if they put their hand up, so they can play at this level,” he added.

“Unfortunately, one player won’t be able to play all 11 games that we have in this block.

Squad rotation crucial

“Squad rotation is really crucial and we’re fortunate to have four to five good centres that any two of the five can play and pull out a performance for us.

“There’s good, healthy internal competition and that lifts the standard not just when we play but on the training field as well.”

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