Who’s the best flyhalf?
- 13 Jan 2014
Two of our team members pick their No 10 for the SARugbymag.co.za Fans' World XV.
Do you want to be entertained? Or do you want to win rugby matches?
I'm sure that those who answered 'yes' to the former question will be wondering why Quade Cooper isn't mentioned here. Those who answered 'yes' to the second question will understand why Steyn is such an asset to the Springboks, and indeed every team for which he plays.
Steyn's value was highlighted in the 2013 Test season when his accurate boot helped the Boks to some monumental victories. The Boks finished the year with an improved try-scoring record despite the fact that attacking ace Johan Goosen was sidelined with injury. More importantly, they finished the season with an improved winning record of 83%.
Steyn kicked some pressure penalties in the June Test against Scotland, and then again in Mendoza when it seemed the Boks were on the brink of an embarrassing defeat to Argentina. His tactical kicking game is up there with Dan Carter's as the best in world rugby, and this strength proved crucial in the Boks' strive for territorial dominance over the course of the 2013 season.
Ordinarily I'd have picked Dan Carter here, but the All Blacks' flyhalf hasn't played nearly enough in the last year to warrant consideration. When he has, he has been well short of his brilliant best.
However, in his absence, Aaron Cruden has established himself as a more than worthy deputy. Cruden took a while to settle in after his emergence, but has now done so, and led the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Rugby titles and played a central role in the Blacks' perfect season in 2013.
Certainly Cruden has shortcomings. His size makes means he'll rarely dominate a hit (although he isn't a defensive liability), while his tactical and goal kicking needs work. But his attacking prowess makes up for his deficiencies. He is equally adept at bringing his strike runners into play as he is at taking on the line himself.
His stepping (off both feet) has left many a would-be defender spellbound, while his ability to offload in contact has been a source of try-scoring success for his side. In the context of the way the Blacks accumulate points, Cruden's weaknesses are relatively inconsequential. He, in my view, is the most valuable 10 in the game at the moment.
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