After slotting the ultimate penalty to win the Lions series for the second time in his career, Morne Steyn has revealed that he never expected to play for the Springboks again when he returned to South Africa from France last year. DYLAN JACK reports.
Just as he did 12 years ago when the Lions last toured South Africa, Steyn proved to be the match-winner as he converted a 78th-minute penalty to help the Springboks claim a 2-1 series victory in the third Test on Saturday night.
When Steyn was named on the bench for the decisive third Test in Cape Town, the immediate thought went to his actions in the second Test in 2009. Back then a relative Test rookie, Steyn came off the bench to convert a penalty from behind the halfway line to give the Boks an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
Now a 37-year-old veteran of over 60 Tests, Steyn kicked two penalties in the final 20 minutes on Saturday as the Boks held on to claim a 19-16 win over the Lions.
“Just to be part of this whole thing, 12 years later, is an amazing feeling,” Steyn said after the match. “Then to get that final kick again, almost in the same position, just a bit closer for the old legs. Luckily it went over. It’s just a great day for South African rugby.
“It’s a bit long, to remember what exactly happened in 2009. But it was almost exactly the same situation. We were also tied up and had a final kick to win the game. Like I said, that one was 54 metres and this one was around 25m. So, yeah, it was a bit better for my old legs.
“For a kicker, it’s special occasions like that. You put in the hard work during the week and during your whole career for a moment or for kicks like that. You always dream of that one kick to win a series, game or championship. Luckily, it paid off today.”
Prior to this Test, Steyn had last played for the Springboks against the All Blacks in 2016. Through spending six years in France with Stade Francais in Paris, his Test career seemed to be all but over, especially as Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies had their places in the squad nailed down.
However, a successful return to the Bulls in 2020 proved pivotal for him, as he proved he can be part of a winning team by helping his team claim the Currie Cup and Super Rugby Unlocked double last season.
Steyn added that while he didn’t expect to be involved in the Lions series, he will continue to play for the Boks for as long as he can.
“I came back from spending six years in France and didn’t expect to play for the Springboks again,” Steyn admitted. “I thought it was over. But it all went well at the Bulls with the Currie Cup and Super Rugby and I had the opportunity to play again.
“At this moment, I am just taking it year by year. As long as I can play for the Springboks, I will play for the Springboks. I will never say no to the Springboks. As long as they want to pick me, I will always be available. I am just enjoying the moment now and will enjoy every day in the green and gold.”
Photo: EJ Langner/Gallo Images