Fabulous Francois

2014-03-10 00:00

SHARKS coach Jake White was ecstatic with how Frans Steyn – his back-up flyhalf – performed as they beat the Lions by 37-23, securing a bonus point win and moving back to the top of the Super Rugby table.

Man-of-the-match Steyn had a 100% kicking record as he slotted four conversions and three penalties, one of which was a mammoth 55 m effort from inside his own half.

The big Springbok, who has played in the number 12 jersey so far this year, was forced to start at number 10 following the withdrawal of regular flyhalf Pat Lambie due to illness.

“He got told just before kick-off that he’s going to go to 10 and I’ve got confidence in him, and again he showed how good he is. I think it’s amazing. He just slotted in and did what he had to do. And it wasn’t only his kicking but the way he played the whole game,” White said about Steyn, who finished the game with a haul of 17 points.

“It’s the third game in a row where he’s played 80 minutes and I’m sure that’s very pleasing, not only for myself, but also for the South African selectors,” said White.

White said the problem with Lambie started on Friday when he missed the captain’s run due to “feeling a bit weak”.

“I said he should stay in bed and we’ll see in the morning how he’s feeling. I phoned him this morning and he said he was feeling a little better and he’ll sleep through the day.

“I phoned Fred [Zeilinga] and Tim Swiel and said to them, ‘Look, bring your kit’ … I told Frans at about 4 pm that he’s going to start at 10,” White said.

The change was the first that the Sharks had made this season. They could make another change to the side to take on the Reds next week with JP Pietersen expected to return to Durban today.

Although White said that Pietersen shouldn’t expect to walk straight into the team, he did acknowledged that he would find it difficult to not select a Springbok.

White took the blame for bringing on a number of replacements with the Sharks looking comfortable at 30-9.

“I probably jumped the gun with all the substitutions at 30-9, but I think as a coach if you don’t have the confidence to play guys when you’re 30-9 up, when will you have the confidence?

“Not taking anything away from the players who came on, I think we probably just disrupted the rhythm of what we had and then we let them in.

“Once they smelt they could get a result, we defended and defended. There are a lot of positives out of that. Again, because we had to work until the 80th minute proves what type of a competition this is,” he said.

“I’ll take the flak for the fact that I thought putting the reserves on at that time, giving everyone a fresh run with massive weeks coming up.”

Lions coach Johan Ackermann felt they deserved something out of that game, but acknowledged that it was their first-half performance that lost the game for them.

The Sharks welcome the Reds to Durban next weekend, then head to Pretoria to take on the Bulls in two weeks for their first away game.

Then they return to their stomping ground to face the Waratahs in what could be a top-of-the-table clash against the Sydneysiders.

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