Springbok backline coach Mzwandile Stick said if you ever wanted to ‘cut-and-paste’ game-management into a side then Morne Steyn is as good a template as you can find, and the veteran flyhalf is hoping to bring some much-needed tactical prowess with the boot to the team for their crucial second Test against Ireland at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Steyn has completed his season with Stade Francais and was back in South Africa preparing to go on holiday when he answered the S.O.S. from the Springbok camp, with Pat Lambie and Handre Pollard both injured. The 31-year-old is likely to be named on the bench as back-up for Elton Jantjies and has every chance of adding to his 60 caps if the home side finds itself in trouble.
“Last Saturday our kicking wasn’t at the usual top standard, and what we’re trying to bring is more kicking into our game and that’s one of my strengths, so hopefully I can bring that to the team. All the teams we play against in Europe are quality, they all have good kicking games, but they’re all trying to run the ball a bit more as well. You can see the standard has improved a lot and England and Ireland were able to show it last weekend. At Stade Francais I’ve been able to gain more experience of playing in that weather, as well as relaxing and enjoying my rugby more,” Steyn said.
The former Bulls star’s international hopes seemed to have suffered a terminal blow last year when he played only 24 minutes of Test rugby, coming off the bench against the USA in the World Cup. But it’s not the first time Steyn has been discarded and returned as his mastery of the basic skills of international flyhalf play don’t go out of fashion.
“I watched a lot of SuperRugby and guys like Elton Jantjies, Pat Lambie and Garth April were all doing so well, and I knew I was a bit older than those guys … plus it’s a new era, which is good for South African rugby. So I guess I wasn’t really expecting to be called up … a guy like Handre Pollard, who is injured now, is in the picture as well so you never know what will happen.
“But rugby certainly is a strange game! Just when you think you’re out of it, you’re back in the thick of it. But I’m here now and determined to make a positive contribution. I spoke to my wife about it as well. We just said we’re going to see how it goes. It’s great to be back and I’m enjoying playing with all the new guys in the Springbok squad, only three or four guys have more than 50 caps. I had four weeks holiday planned, but it’s great to be back on the field!
“Family time is great, but I will give it my all for the Springboks. 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,” Steyn said.