Morne Steyn has not given up on his dream of playing for the Boks again. The next two weeks will be crucial if the 36-year-old is to realise that dream, writes ANDRE-PIERRE CRONJE.
Morne Steyn was quoted this week saying it was not his decision to stop playing for South Africa and that ‘every game is a game to prove myself’. It is a statement of intent from the Vodacom Bulls flyhalf who clearly still harbours ambitions to don the green and gold.
The veteran flyhalf last played a Test for the Springboks in 2016 and may feel that he has unfinished business. Steyn’s international career seemingly ended after the infamous 57-15 drubbing by New Zealand in which Steyn missed five tackles. It was a poor performance by the No 10 amid a shambolic collective failure.
Over four years later and Steyn has been in sensational form since his return to the Bulls. His abilities as a tactical kicker and game manager have not been dulled by age and he is one of South Africa’s best in this facet of the game. He also remains South Africa’s pre-eminent place kicker, retaining a lethal edge in front of the posts.
What has been particularly impressive, though, is that Steyn – often criticised for being one-dimensional – has demonstrated a surprising deftness in directing the Bulls’ attacking play. He’s shown a versatility in employing both kicking options and distribution to find space. The flyhalf has established himself as the integral link man in a rejuvenated Bulls backline.
At 36 years of age, Steyn is no spring chicken and if he is ever to play for the Boks again it would need to be within the next year. With Bok incumbent Handre Pollard afflicted by a long-term injury, there may just be an opening for Steyn.
This Saturday the Bulls meet the Lions in the first Currie Cup semi-final and Steyn will face the current first-choice Bok flyhalf in Elton Jantjies. Nothing less than a decisive Bulls victory and a complete performance by Steyn would keep his Bok dream alive. A subsequent victory in the final might go some way to raising his prominence on Rassie Erasmus’ radar.
There is, however, the small matter of the coming of age of a certain Curwin Bosch. The Sharks flyhalf has matured as a player this season since settling into the flyhalf berth. He possesses many of the same strengths as Morne Steyn, chiefly an irrepressible boot both out of hand and in front of goal, and will be his immediate competition for a spot in a hypothetical Springbok squad.
At 23 years young, Bosch may rightly be considered the future, but it is worth remembering that rugby games are won in the present. It may be too soon to tell whether Morne Steyn will get the opportunity to represent the Springboks again but for the next two weeks, at least, his future is in his own hands.
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