Former Springbok centre Pieter Muller says Frans Steyn’s ‘wow factor’ will be crucial for the Springboks at the World Cup in Japan despite his lack of game time.
Steyn returned to the Bok set-up this year and played off the bench in all three of the Springboks’ Rugby Championship Tests, as well as the one-off match against Argentina in Pretoria.
The 32-year-old Steyn showed a lot of energy and hunger in the opener against Australia, but didn’t make much of an impact in the other Tests and looked a bit slow and off the pace against Los Pumas at Loftus.
However, Muller believes that Steyn still possesses that X factor which could be the difference between winning and losing matches at the World Cup.
‘The backs in the squad … there is quite a good balance. Rassie [Erasmus] has managed to build quite a strong squad, with speed, power and experience, while a guy like Frans Steyn can play in many positions,’ Muller said.
‘Frans could maybe have had a few more minutes on the park. But I guess Rassie wanted to bring him back slowly, because it’s difficult for a guy who hasn’t played Test rugby to come in from overseas and perform.
‘But he is one of those wonder boys, who can win you a match on any given day. You want that wow factor in a World Cup. He has that wow factor, while he also brings his vast experience to the table.’
Muller, who played 33 Tests for the Boks and featured at the 1999 World Cup, is also backing Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am as South Africa’s first-choice centre pairing for their World Cup opener against the All Blacks on 21 September.
De Allende and Am seem to be Erasmus’ preferred midfield combo. They started together against the All Blacks in Wellington, while they also featured in the decisive Rugby Championship match against Argentina in Salta.
‘They played really well against the All Blacks. The combination is important and I hope they will play together again in the warm-up match against Japan on Friday,’ Muller added.
‘You have to have a good understanding as a centre pairing. It’s important on defence and attack. Damian has got good offloading skills, while Lukhanyo runs great lines. Lukhanyo is also a great defender at No 13.’
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