Mind games: Weirdly, Steyn remains off the Springbok radar

2015-02-08 15:00

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Frans Steyn seems to still be off the Springboks’ radar, as incomprehensible as that might seem in a rugby World Cup year.

A source close to Steyn, who became the youngest winner of a World Cup medal in 2007 at the age of 21, has confirmed the player has not been contacted by either the SA Rugby Union (Saru) or national coach Heyneke Meyer with a view to bringing him back into the Bok fold.

Steyn had a massive fallout with the country’s rugby officials shortly before a test against Wales in Durban last year.

The altercation became so heated that he stormed out of the camp.

Although Steyn was generally censured for what appeared to be a petulant act, it later emerged Saru had been at fault for mismanaging his contractual issues.

Rather than trying to resolve the sticking points, Saru then took the stance that Steyn had requested not be considered for the Springboks.

Although contacting players in Japan is well-nigh impossible given the time differences and “off-limits” screens erected around them, I have been able to confirm that Steyn has not been contacted.

This in spite of the fact that Bok skipper Jean de Villiers is in the midst of a touch-and-go battle to regain full fitness following knee surgery.

Coincidentally, in the 2007 rugby World Cup there was a similar situation, when De Villiers was injured in the opening game.

It was left to Steyn to don the number 12 jersey and there is no doubt he played a crucial role in ensuring the Boks marched to victory.

Steyn is considered a player who possesses the X-factor, thanks to his power in both defence and on attack, as well as his ability to kick long-range goals.

It was therefore no surprise that he was snapped up by Japanese club the Toshiba Brave Lupus (Wolves).

Although the Wolves lost in the semifinals of Japan’s top league, Steyn is still in Japan, as his club has qualified for the All-Japan knockout championship.

Steyn’s return will thus depend on how far the Wolves progress in this competition, which is scheduled to finish on February 28.

It therefore seems likely Steyn will miss at least the first three rounds of the Super Rugby competition.

This is also the case with JP Pietersen (Panasonic Wild Knights) and Schalk Burger (Suntory Sungoliath) in respect of their projected returns to the Sharks and Stormers, respectively.

(Interestingly, the Sharks’ new coach, Gary Gold, has been able to take on his appointment at Kings Park and was in charge when the KwaZulu-Natal team played Toulon in France on Thursday night. Gold previously coached the Kobe Steelers.)

Another indication that Steyn has been banished was that he was apparently ignored by Meyer when the coach and a group of Springboks visited their apparel sponsor, Asics, in Japan late last year.

Meyer is said to have been in touch with the likes of Fourie du Preez and Jaque Fourie (subsequently retired).

The situation surrounding Du Preez, who has been with Sungoliath for a few seasons now, is even more puzzling.

Although he has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Nic White at the Brumbies, I could get no clarity on whether Meyer’s preferred scrum half is going to play any Super Rugby at all (perhaps by rejoining the Bulls?).

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