Does Steyn want the job or not? — Bok coach

2010-08-13 00:00

FRANS Steyn has been ruled out of the Springboks’ Test against the All Blacks in Soweto on August 21.

SA Rugby Union manager Andy Marinos confirmed yesterday that injury will prevent the former Shark from returning to action.

Marinos said he hopes Steyn will be ready and available to play in the final two Tri-Nations Tests against the Wallabies on August 28 and September 4.

There has been some confusion over Steyn’s availability. Some claims are that it is not injury but a reluctance to play under coach Peter de Villiers that is preventing his return, while it has also been reported that SA Rugby failed to gain the necessary clearance for the player 14 days before the Test.

Marinos said Steyn has been told not to train until Wednesday next week after suffering an injury to his quadriceps muscle in a friendly last Friday.

The Saru manager has been in discussions with Steyn’s club, Racing Metro, and the French Rugby Federation to secure the fullback’s availability for the following two Tests against Australia.

“The injury situation has to be dealt with first, but we are hopeful that Frans will be available to us after the All Blacks match,” he added.

The Springboks have become increasingly frustrated at Racing Metro’s lack of communication.

“We have been struggling to get clarity on the extent of Steyn’s injury. I don’t want to say that anyone is being disingenuous, but communication is difficult with players overseas and I’m concerned by the very scarce information coming back from Racing Metro,” Marinos said.

But reports from France suggest that Steyn is reluctant to play for the Springboks under De Villiers following the criticism of his performance against Wales in June.

De Villiers, in turn, yesterday questioned Steyn’s commitment to the Bok cause.

“Does he want to be here or not? I can’t understand if he doesn’t have a heart for the Springbok jersey,” De Villiers told reporters.

“I want a team on the field that feels strongly for our land. He is so talented; I want to see him play for us, but there comes a point when you have to say ‘so far and no further’. We must get finality on this situation as quickly as possible.”

De Villiers said confusion over Steyn’s availability has resulted in a change of thinking among the selectors, but that minor adjustments in certain areas are needed rather than wholesale changes.

“It has been slightly disruptive, but we have players in the group who are ready to play and it would be silly to take risks if any player is not 100% fit.

“Last year the bulk of the squad came from the Bulls and the Sharks, who play a similar style of rugby. With more Stormers coming in this year, we have had to adapt a bit, but did not have the opportunity or time to get everyone fully on the same page. We have now been able to do so during this week’s training camp.”

De Villiers will reduce the training squad from 29 to 24 today and the Test squad of 22 will be announced on Tuesday.

The withdrawal of Steyn seems certain to result in Gio Aplon being chosen at fullback in place of Zane Kirchner, with J.P. Pietersen, back from injury, on the wing and Juan de Jongh and Jean de Villiers in the midfield.

Western Province have meanwhile refused to allow their defensive coach Jacques Nienaber to join the Bok squad.

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