Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn has been part of the Springbok alignment camps in preparation for the British & Irish Lions series and showed why with his performance against the Stormers.
The Bulls put up a heroic defensive effort to come away from Cape Town Stadium with a 20-16 victory in the second round of the Rainbow Cup SA, despite coming under enormous pressure from the home side.
In the second half the Bulls camped in their own 22 at times and the Stormers seemed destined to break down their defence, but could score only a solitary try.
However, plenty of credit also has to go to Steyn, who as the team’s general, turned in yet another classy performance in his 60 minutes on the field.
The 36-year-old missed his first penalty attempt, but proceeded to dominate the game with a number of pinpoint kicks in behind the Stormers’ defensive line. He also set up the Bulls’ second try after finding wing Madosh Tambwe with a brilliant executed crossfield kick.
‘Morne has been a stalwart of this team. He is now in the alignment camps with the national set-up,’ Bulls coach Jake White said after the match.
‘He is obviously enjoying the fact that he is still being earmarked as a national player. I think it’s important for him to get some game time.’
Steyn, who made a memorable Test debut against the British & Irish Lions when they last toured South Africa in 2009, played the last of his 66 matches for the Springboks in the 57-15 loss to the All Blacks in Durban in 2016.
The rise of Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies, the pivots in the Boks’ 2019 World Cup success, meant that the national team has not had to spread their net and recall Steyn to the squad.
However, with Steyn returning to the Bulls in 2020 and showing consistent form to help the team win both Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup titles, he has been recalled to last month’s alignment camps.
‘He was very tactically astute with how we wanted to play this weekend,’ White explained. ‘We played a bit differently, because we felt there was one way to recall the Stormers’ attack.
‘The Stormers defend in a way that leaves space on the outside. When Morne kicked those balls across the field, they were always pinpoint. It was not only that, but the way he kept the Stormers in their own half which was important.
‘We have got two realtively inexperienced scrumhalves in Embrose [Papier] and Zak [Burger]. To have Morne’s experience and seniority in the game was vital.’
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