World Cup-winner Frans Steyn is relishing the opportunity to represent the Springboks at a third global tournament. JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg reports.
Frans Steyn. This was the name on everybody’s lips at the 2011 World Cup.
Steyn famously slotted a long-range penalty that clinched the 2007 World Cup final for the Boks. By the time he arrived in New Zealand, he’d built up a reputation, after helping the Boks to a series victory against the British & Irish Lions and the 2009 Tri-Nations title.
Steyn suffered a tournament-ending injury in the pool match against Samoa. The Boks went on to lose in the subsequent quarter-final against Australia. Steyn made a brief comeback to Test rugby in 2012, but it would be five years before he played another Test.
On Monday, it was confirmed that Steyn will travel with the Boks to the global tournament in Japan.
Erasmus highlighted the player’s importance at a media conference held in the aftermath when he said: ‘Frans is the only player in the group who has won a World Cup before.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) August 26, 2019
Steyn was eased back into international rugby since rejoining the Boks. Erasmus has used the 32-year-old from the bench in recent matches, but has long believed that Steyn will play a key role at the 2019 World Cup.
‘I first spoke to Frans when I was visiting several players based in France last year,’ said the Bok coach. ‘Back then, I could see that he was committed to the cause. There were some technicalities around his family and his club that had to be sorted out, but I could see that he still had the burning desire to play.
‘It was good to get him back into the squad this year. Really, he had to get an injury not to make the World Cup squad.
‘I always knew what we had in him. He’s the only player in our squad who has won a World Cup before. He brings a lot of experience to the party and he’s able to cover 10, 12, 13 and 15.’
While Erasmus always believed Steyn would make the cut, the player himself felt that he had something to prove over the recent Rugby Championship campaign.
Steyn told SARugbymag.co.za as much after the World Cup squad announcement on Monday.
‘It’s been exciting to get back into the mix,’ Steyn said.
‘I’m one of the oldest, but sometimes I act like one of the youngest guys in the team.
‘I’m just enjoying it. I haven’t been here for a while, so I know what it feels like not to make this team. I won’t take anything for granted. I’m just here to give it my all and enjoy it.’
Damian de Allende will travel to the World Cup as the other No 12 in the squad. In the event of injury, Andre Esterhuizen – who featured in the recent Tests – will receive a call-up.
‘I wanted to see how Andre went in the Rugby Championship because I wanted to know that we had adequate cover,’ said Erasmus.
‘In past World Cups, there’s always been a player who has come into the squad late because of an injury. At four separate tournaments it’s been in the position of inside centre. I wanted to make sure that Andre could provide backup.’
Erasmus revealed that Esterhuizen, along with six other players, have been placed on standby. That number may be increased in the coming days.
‘I would like to be honest [and tell you the names of players on the shortlist] but it’s about the team dynamics [in terms of who gets called up in the event of injury].
‘We may also add three or four more players to the list. I just want to see how a few Currie Cup games go this week.
‘Damian Willemse might be added. There are a few guys who we are asking to play overseas so that they can stay fit.
‘The WP guys are out of the Currie Cup, so we need the ones who are on standby to keep playing. When that is official I will release the list.’
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