Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says experienced back Frans Steyn has been a calming influence on the team during the high-pressure week of a World Cup final.
The Boks face England in Yokohama on Saturday in what will be a repeat of the 2007 final, which the Boks won 15-6. Steyn is the only survivor from the Springbok team that took the field that day and memorably slotted a long-range penalty to secure the victory.
Now playing a very different role in this campaign, Steyn has mostly been utilised off the bench as an experienced utility back in the Springboks’ crucial games. Erasmus said Steyn, who will earn his 67th cap if he comes on to the field on Saturday, will be key this week as the Boks prepare for their biggest game in 12 years.
‘Frans is a difficult guy to tap into,’ Erasmus said with a chuckle. ‘He is definitely a calming factor in the team because he doesn’t stress out a lot. It is wonderful to have him on the bench, able to cover so many positions. It doesn’t matter if you are ahead or behind on the scoreboard, he does have a good, calming influence both on and off the field.’
Erasmus added that England could have the upper hand when it comes to dealing with the pressure as coach Eddie Jones has experienced the stresses of a final week with both Australia in 2003 and the Boks in 2007.
‘We are under pressure. I have never coached in a World Cup final,’ Erasmus said. ‘Apart from this year, I had never coached in a World Cup semi-final or quarter-final. Actually, I had never coached in a World Cup before. The pressure is on. We are excited but we do feel the pressure. We are trying to find ways to handle it and work around it.
‘England will have the upper hand with Eddie’s experience of being in previous World Cup [finals] with South Africa and Australia. But we have tried to find our own way of handling it and so far so good.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 29, 2019
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