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Ken Borland

Steyn looking to impose his management on game 0

Posted on June 17, 2016 by Ken


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.

Steyn shows he’s still the man to keep Bulls on top 0

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Ken


“I am still the man” was the overriding message from flyhalf Morné Steyn as he steered the Bulls to a tense 18-16 Vodacom SuperRugby victory over the Sharks in Durban and maintained their position atop the South African Conference and in second overall.

It was not just the fact that Steyn was once again on-target with the boot, his six penalties accounting for all the Bulls’ points, but even more so the way he marshalled his side, won them the territory battle and kept their structure and game plan rock-solid under intense, Test-like pressure. And he did all that even though his team were massively on the back foot at scrum-time.

There is now surely little doubt Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will call on Steyn to wear the number 10 jersey for the national side in their quadrangular Tests involving Italy, Scotland and Samoa next month.

Pat Lambie, who also kicked superbly at goal on Saturday but was not as assured in general play, will probably be on the Springboks’ bench as Steyn won the battle of the flyhalves at King’s Park.

The passionate Sharks produced a display of much thunder and fury, but little actual impact as the Bulls sat back and defended stoutly, waiting for the inevitable handling error and then kicking the Sharks back into their own territory, from where lapses in discipline could be turned into points by Steyn. Often, the Bulls used the rolling maul to push the Sharks back and force the infringement.

While the Sharks thoroughly dominated the scrums, they struggled in the lineouts and one sensed the Bulls knew their hosts would err in that set-piece when they kicked-off in the 75th minute, trailing 15-16 after Charl McLeod’s try had snatched the lead for the KwaZulu-Natalians. Steyn kicked deep, the chasers did their job and the Sharks conceded a lineout just inside their own 22.

Unfortunately for the hosts, Tendai Mtawarira grabbed the leaping Flip van der Merwe a fraction early, while he was still in the air, conceding a penalty which Man-of-the-Match Steyn was never going to miss whatever the acute angle.

Despite it being a beautiful winter’s day in Durban, the evening was cruel for rugby because of heavy dew and that led to masses of handling errors, particularly by the Sharks when they were in the Bulls’ red zone.

But rather than focus on the Sharks’ lack of skills, one should also credit the Bulls’ heavyweight forwards, who dominated the collisions to such an extent that the Sharks were unable to rely on the likes of Willem Alberts, Jean Deysel, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Mtawarira for their usual go-forward ball.

The Bulls’ joy was tempered somewhat by the news wing Bjorn Basson has been cited, having already received a yellow card during the game, for an innocuous tip tackle on Lambie as he tried to run from his own 22, while Van der Merwe was given an off-field yellow for legally rucking Keegan Daniel away from the wrong side of a ruck, in clear view of experienced referee Jonathan Kaplan, who correctly took no action.

So many words have been written in recent weeks on the poor quality of refereeing, anonymous assistant referees and ludicrous TMO decisions that are having such a detrimental effect on this year’s competition. It seems out-of-touch citing commissioners now want to have more of an impact on the game as well, heaping more frustration on coaches, players and fans.

The Cheetahs, meanwhile, are cooking up a thrilling conclusion to the conference race – next weekend’s match in Bloemfontein between them and the Bulls will be a vital humdinger – and they kept the pressure on the three-time champions by beating the Southern Kings 34-22 in Port Elizabeth.

The Kings certainly weren’t soft pushovers, and they led 12-6 heading into the half-time break. But they weren’t able to do much more than defend and rely on Demetri Catrakilis’s boot and the home side’s tryline was finally breached by the Cheetahs on the hooter.

Willie le Roux, who was in sublime form, showed great acceleration to burst through the defensive line on the blindside and Johann Sadie was on his outside to take the perfectly-timed pass and dash over for the opening try.

The third quarter was an exhibition of clinical rugby by the Cheetahs as they scored three more tries and, trailing 15-34, the match was over for the Kings on the hour mark.

Left wing Le Roux was once again at the centre of the action, his quick hands setting up Sadie for his second try and then the former Stormers and Bulls centre repaid the favour with a mazy run that Le Roux finished off for the bonus-point try.

Scrumhalf Piet van Zyl also showed a keen eye for the gap as he grabbed his third try in two games.

The Stormers, meanwhile, shrugged off suggestions from their demanding fans that the whole management and playing staff should be disbanded as they secured a 20-15 victory over the Reds at Newlands that was full of immense character and also helped the Cheetahs considerably.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee had been forced to dip into the ranks of Western Province’s Vodacom Cup side, and even as far as the UCT team, by a raft of injuries. But he was fortunate that experienced hooker Tiaan Liebenberg returned from injury at the same time and the likeable veteran pulled the pack together in superb fashion.

Eben Etzebeth was immense as he and Gerbrandt Grobler dominated the lineouts and the defence was back to its best with the loose forwards, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr in particular, and inside centre Damian de Allende the leading lights.

The Stormers also scored the only try of the game and the much-derided Elton Jantjies was at the centre of it.

Jantjies, who finally got to play the full 80 minutes, changed the approach of the Stormers’ attack early in the second half as his perfectly-positioned cross-kick was fielded by left wing Bryan Habana, who immediately popped the ball inside to fullback Joe Pietersen. Perfect interplay between Pietersen, cutting inside, and Jean de Villiers, racing up outside him, then saw the Stormers captain score a thrilling try that was ultimately the difference between the two teams.

The boot of Pietersen, with five penalties, was also an obvious factor in the Stormers’ win, but it was the determination and composure of the makeshift team that stood out most of all as the title challenge of the Reds continued to falter on African soil. The 2011 champions have now slipped from third to fifth behind the Cheetahs after losing both their tour games.

In the words of De Villiers himself: “To beat a team like the Reds when you have 16 players out says something, and what it says is that we have the right coaches and they are choosing the right players. This was one of the most emotional wins of my career.”

Steyn still integral part of Boks – kicking coach 0

Posted on October 22, 2012 by Ken


Dropped flyhalf Morne Steyn will still be a key figure for the Springboks going forward, the South Africa team’s kicking coach, Louis Koen, said on Tuesday.

The out-of-form Steyn was dropped for last weekend’s Rugby Championship match against Australia and with the 20-year-old Johan Goosen starring in a 31-8 win that ended a record five-match losing streak against the Wallabies, many critics have begun writing the obituaries for Steyn’s international career.

But Koen said he believes the 28-year-old Steyn will make a rapid return to favour, despite the early succcess Goosen has enjoyed and the claims of another youngster, Currie Cup-winning flyhalf Elton Jantjies.

“Morne has played a lot of rugby recently, for three years consecutively at a very high level, and the pressure was starting to build. Fatigue does definitely have an effect on kicking, but he has a sensational technique and he will be back, I believe that with my whole heart.

“He will come back calmer, when there’s a little less pressure, and when we go on our overseas tour at the end of the year, conditions will be wetter and we’ll have to play a more tactical game. I believe Morne will still be an integral player for the Springboks in the future,” Koen told a news conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has been accused of having misplaced faith in Steyn after the hero of the Springboks’ 2009 and

2010 seasons lost his goalkicking touch and struggled to spark the team on attack.

Koen said he had logged every practice kick the Springboks have taken this year and Steyn was the most consistent kicker, succeeding with 88% of 620 attempts.

The former Springbok flyhalf said this pointed to the disappointing results on the field being a mental problem, although Koen admitted that “I’m no expert on the mental side of things”.

The kicking coach also strenuously denied that he had changed any of the goalkickers’ techniques.

“I haven’t changed one thing. Like my work with [Stormers flyhalf] Peter Grant in SuperRugby since 2005, it takes time to establish a relationship of trust and get behind their techniques. If they struggle, I’d like to get to where I can give them positive input, but at the moment I can’t do that out on the field. I’m not convinced it’s the way to go to change things right before a test,” Koen said.

Goosen is currently suffering from a bruised heel that made goalkicking painful for him and Koen said he is having to deal with his young protege’s frustration.

“Johan is very frustrated at the moment, he hasn’t been able to kick in training for two weeks. He’s worried and we just need to calm him down and tell him to focus on his natural game, which he did exceptionally well last weekend.

“But according to him, his general play is married to his goalkicking, he really feeds off it and it gives him confidence.

“The injury is to the flat pad of his heel, it’s a bone bruise. But it doesn’t affect his general play, he runs on the ball of his foot so he can definitely play even if he doesn’t kick,” Koen said.

Meanwhile, Springbok scrum coach Pieter de Villiers praised the All Blacks set-piece for being a formidable unit.

“Against Australia the scrums are more of a technical battle, but it’s more physical against New Zealand, they see scrums like we do. They have a very strong scrummaging unit as a whole, a well-balanced front row that gives them a solid base, and a powerful back five.

“They work together really well as a unit, their timing is good so they generate speed, which is what you need because the distance is shorter these days on the hit.

“The All Blacks have one of the best scrums in the world and we’ll need to be switched on,” De Villiers said.


Boks choose promising Goosen at flyhalf 0

Posted on October 14, 2012 by Ken

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday included promising 20-year-old flyhalf Johan Goosen at the expense of the experienced Morne Steyn in the team to play Australia in a Rugby Championship Test in Pretoria on Saturday.

Steyn’s form deserted him as the Springboks drew in Argentina and then lost to Australia in Perth and New Zealand in Dunedin, and the under-pressure Meyer has responded by omitting the man many South African fans hold responsible for the poor results.

“It was a very difficult decision, but I have to look after the team’s interests first and then the individual’s. Morne really wanted to play, especially at Loftus, his home ground, but he is a true champion and he took my decision gracefully. He has won a lot of games for his country, just the last few have not gone well. But Morne’s not someone you need to feel sorry for, he’s a fighter and he will come back stronger,” Meyer told a news conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Goosen, who looked a prodigious talent in SuperRugby for the Cheetahs before a dislocated shoulder ruled him out at the halfway stage of the competition, has promised much in two appearances totalling half-an-hour off the bench.

“Johan has always been in the mix since day one, but it’s been a process with him. I feel he is now ready to start a Test for South Africa and I’m excited to see what he can bring,” said Meyer.

The uncapped 22-year-old Elton Jantjies has been included as the reserve flyhalf on the bench and, if inside centre Francois Steyn fails to recover from a twisted ankle, then another debutant, utility back Jaco Taute, will play outside centre, with captain Jean de Villiers shifting to number 12, where he has played most of his 79 Tests.

“I’m really passionate about the Springboks, it feels like life and death decisions for myself. But it’s not about giving players chances at this level, they must be able to make a difference and I would not put them in the 22 if I did not have confidence in them,” Meyer said.

The other changes to the Springbok team that lost 21-11 to New Zealand in Dunedin two weekends ago sees South Africa fielding a new lock pairing in 2.03m Eben Etzebeth and 2.08m Andries Bekker that will give them the same lineout that led the Stormers to the top of the SuperRugby standings. Eighthman Duane Vermeulen is also a key lineout jumper, while Tiaan Liebenberg is the reserve hooker.

Meyer said the changes in the second row would ensure that the Springboks had taller players better suited to the strong Australian lineout and what is expected to be a fast-paced game.

“All the locks are sticking up their hands and we’re building great depth there, so it was a tough call. Flip van der Merwe had probably his best game ever for the Springboks and Juandre Kruger was very good too.

“Against the All Blacks, you want locks that play more to the ball and Flip and Juandre were superb at the rucks. But Australia are very good in the lineout, they will put us under pressure there, and one of Bekker’s other strengths is that, in a more open game, he has the ability to pitch up at centre or on the wing,” Meyer said.

Team- 15-Zane Kirchner, 14-Bryan Habana, 13-Jean de Villiers/Jaco Taute, 12-Francois Steyn/Jean de Villiers, 11-Francois Hougaard, 10-Johan Goosen, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Andries Bekker, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16-Tiaan Liebenberg, 17-Coenie Oosthuizen, 18-Flip van der Merwe, 19-Marcell Coetzee, 20-Elton Jantjies, 21-Jaco Taute/Juan de Jongh, 22-Pat Lambie.


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