Fans amazed as Lukhanyo Am no-look pass stuns New Zealand in Rugby Championship
A busy summer of international rugby has seen Lukhanyo Am's stock soar as one of the sport's best centres, which was highlighted once more in Saturday's clash against New Zealand.
The Sharks midfielder was ever-present for South Africa during their series win over the British and Irish Lions, and he's continued to stand out during their Rugby Championship campaign.
Australia's second straight win over Argentina meant Jacques Nienaber's side came into their last game of the tournament knowing they couldn't finish higher than third in the table.
But that didn't prevent South Africa from taking the game to the All Blacks, securing the opening score through Damian de Allende with less than six minutes on the clock.
Relentless pressure forced a turnover in the New Zealand 22' early on, and it was Am's majestic misdirection that put Sbu Nkosi in enough space to find De Allende for a simple score in the right corner.
South Africa have attracted scrutiny in recent months for not showing enough fervour with ball in hand, but one pass was enough to prove those critics wrong.
The All Blacks were sold as gestured toward the posts before flinging the ball around his back and into the arms of an expectant Nkosi, who made the most of their overlap in slick fashion.
Fans praised the magic manoeuvre en masse as Am's ingenious switch was dubbed 'ridiculous' and earned calls to be named 'assist of the year'.
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New Zealand responded with three tries of their own to head in as 20-14 half-time leaders on the Gold Coast, but the early initiative stirred South Africa spirits that they can indeed contend with the Kiwis.
Some fans referred to Am as a 'wizard' for his no-look nous, while South Africa rugby journalist Brenden Nel praised: "What a pass. What a pass take a bow."
Another Twitter user hailed the move as an "Incredible piece of skill," which at least granted the Springboks early hope for the upset.
South Africa were unlucky to lose 19-17 in the dress rehearsal of this fixture one week earlier, a result that meant New Zealand reclaimed the Rugby Championship title with a game to spare.
Am's ongoing feats are all the more impressive considering he's hardly had a rest this summer, playing the full 80 minutes in all but one of South Africa's eight Tests since the start of the Lions series.
That being said, the centre showed no signs of fatigue while crafting the breakthrough try against New Zealand, alerting his opponents once again of his threat with ball in hand.
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