Morné Steyn can bring some much-needed balance to the Springbok game plan this Saturday, and possibly in the future, reports JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg.
On Monday, Bok coach Allister Coetzee confirmed that Steyn had been recalled to the national squad. The news came as a shock to those who believed that Coetzee would back Garth April to feature in the Bok match 23 following the injury to Pat Lambie at Newlands.
Steyn was already in camp with the Boks by the time that news was confirmed. He trained with the Boks on Monday afternoon, and looked every bit the general in that flyhalf position. Elton Jantjies is expected to start at Ellis Park this Saturday, but Steyn, the 60-Test veteran, will provide cover from the bench.
On Tuesday, Steyn faced the media for the first time since rejoining the squad. Steyn went to the 2015 World Cup as the Boks’ third-choice flyhalf behind Handré Pollard and Lambie. He admitted that he was surprised to receive a Test recall, and that he had to put his holiday plans on hold in order to take this opportunity with the Boks.
‘Rugby is a strange game. You think you’re out, and suddenly you’re back in the thick of it. It’s great to be back,’ said the 31-year-old, who plays his club rugby for Stade Français.
‘I’m here now and determined to make a positive contribution. I watched the Super Rugby this season, and I saw guys like Elton, Pat and Garth doing well. For me, I know I’m a bit older … and it’s a new era for the Boks. There are so many new faces in the team. Only three or four guys have more than 50 caps.’
Steyn has won some big matches for the Bulls and Boks in recent years with his accurate kicking game. Unsurprisingly, he believes that he can aid the Boks as they strive to play a game that embraces tactical kicking as well as attack.
‘Last Saturday, our kicking game wasn’t up to the usual top standard. That’s what we’re trying to implement now, a bit more kicking. That’s one of my strengths, so hopefully I can bring that to the team.’
Bok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said that Jantjies and Steyn will have to be accurate in the must-win clash with the Irish at Ellis Park.
‘We rushed things last Saturday. We didn’t work to use the space. The key is to play in the right areas at Ellis Park,’ said Stick. ‘That’s why it’s good to have a guy like Elton who has a good kicking game. That said, you can’t ask for a better manager of the game than Morné Steyn.’
It would appear that Steyn, one of the forgotten men of South African rugby, has a chance to remind the Bok coaches of his value and possibly revive his Test career.
When this was put to Steyn, the player said he was reluctant to think too far ahead.
‘I spoke to my wife about it as well. We just said we’re going to give it another year and see how it goes,' he said.
‘Handré Pollard is also injured at the moment [and may be back in the Bok mix in 2016], so you never know what will happen [in future]. But in every training session, every game I play from here I’m going to give it 100%. Maybe I can keep going for another two or three years.’
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images