In big news revealed on Thursday, it was confirmed that Lukhanyo Am is taking up a short-term deal in Japan and will not be available to the Sharks for the next couple of months. The leadership duties will now be handed over to Siya Kolisi, with Thomas du Toit effectively serving as vice-captain.
The short two-month deal does come at an inopportune time as the Durban franchise are in the middle of their United Rugby Championship, but Am has also committed to a long-term contract extension with the Sharks.
“In Lukhanyo’s absence, we are fortunate that our inspirational World Cup winning national captain, Siya Kolisi will take over the captaincy role and will be ably supported and assisted by Thomas du Toit, who is himself a key and respected leader in our team both on and off the field.”
Am will head to Japan from next week to link up with the Kobe Steelers, but the two-month stint does ensure that the Bok centre will be back in time for the United Rugby Championship play-offs, should the Sharks progress to the qualifiers.
Kolisi has previously explained that he was more than happy for Am to remain as the Sharks’ regular captain
The Sharks’ statement also highlighted that Am has committed to the Sharks until 2025.
“Building a world class squad that fights for success and performs with distinction is all about identifying talent, recruiting where necessary and above all, retaining your top players,” explained Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee.
“We are thrilled that Lukhanyo has thrown his full support behind what we at the Sharks are trying to achieve and he has committed his substantial abilities and player excellence to the Sharks for the next three years. His contribution to the Sharks has been phenomenal and we look forward with eager anticipation to the next few years with him as an integral member of the team.”
“At the Sharks, we want to provide our players with opportunities, be it bringing in new players or those already in the system,” Coetzee added.