Frans Steyn has highlighted the difference in his awareness and appreciation of the Boks’ 2007 and 2019 World Cup wins, and his hopes of facing the 2021 Lions next year.
Steyn has joined an elite group of players as a double World Cup winner, having done so with the Springboks in 2007 when he was just 20 years old – making him the youngest player in history to win the World Cup – and again in 2019 as a 32-year-old.
In an interview with RugbyPass writer Jamie Lyall, Steyn reveals that he hadn’t fully grasped the enormity that he was about to play in a second final until he caught a glimpse of John Smit, who was captain of the 2007 squad.
‘On the field before the  final, I saw John Smit and I got emotional because in 2007 I was young, I didn’t realise what it meant,’ said Steyn.
He added that because he had wised up, matured and was more experienced, he had a greater appreciation of what the Boks accomplished this time than he had 12 years ago in 2007.
‘You always think you’ll get another chance if it doesn’t work out. You don’t take it that seriously. I didn’t even worry before the final in 2007 – I don’t stress a lot before games, I make jokes and all those things – I sat next to Jacque Fourie and he was listening to frickin’ comedy songs before the World Cup final.
‘When I was young, I didn’t think of the team that much, you just want to prove yourself, show why you’re there. The last World Cup, it was more like … I don’t need to prove anything, I just need to support the guys around me and do my best for the team – hopefully I’m still good enough to do that. This time, most of the players went through the bad times with the Boks, so it meant so much to them that they weren’t playing around or whatever.’
Unlike in 2007, Steyn wasn’t a regular in South Africa’s starting lineup at last year’s tournament. Instead, he played a leading role in the Boks’ now-famed ‘Bomb Squad’, which in layman’s terms means bench players or substitutes. But Steyn says he’s just grateful to have been a part of the team, regardless of his role.
‘I’m just lucky there was a role for me, I didn’t think I was going to get the chance to play at another World Cup, so I didn’t care if I was going to hold bags – it was about being part of something. And I knew if Rassie was in charge there would be something special,’ he explained.
And, of course, Steyn was also part of the 2009 Springbok team that beat the British & Irish Lions 2-1 and he hopes he can – like with the World Cup – be a part of next year’s Bok set-up during the Lions tour.
‘I don’t know how many players have played against the Lions twice. The great players can make four World Cups, but the Lions happens only once in 12 years. That puts it on another level. And at the moment, England and Ireland have got massive teams and massive players,’ he said.
‘That second Test in 2009 was crazy, one of the toughest Tests I’ve been a part of. Danie Rossouw got knocked out by Brian O’Driscoll, Bakkies Botha cleaned Adam Jones’ shoulder off. It [2021 Lions tour] is not going to be fun, but it’ll be good.’
Photo: Odd Andersen/Getty Images/AP