Stage is set for Steyn

2014-12-02 00:00

FRANS Steyn’s fallout with the ­Springboks is water under the bridge, and he is now coming into the picture as a possible replacement for the injured Jean de Villiers at next year’s World Cup in England.

De Villiers’s horrific knee injury in his side’s 12-6 loss to Wales this weekend added further woes to a lacklustre ­Northern Hemisphere tour.

The Bok captain was stretchered off the field after dislocating his knee in the second half of their final Test of the tour. The extent of his injury is serious and his return before next year’s World Cup is in doubt.

According to Bok doctor Craig Roberts, “scans revealed significant ligament damage to the inside of his knee and the supporting muscles”. De Villiers is due to see a specialist in Cape Town this week.

Saru’s GM of corporate affairs Andy Colquhoun told The Witness that the “dispute” between Steyn and the Boks had been resolved with the player’s agent Gerrie Swart earlier this year. However, he could not confirm if Steyn would be back in the Bok fold. “That selection is up to the selectors,” said Colquhoun.

The potential light at the end of the tunnel is that Steyn will return to Durban to play for the Sharks in the 2015 Super Rugby competition.

A 20-year-old Steyn replaced De ­Villiers in the 2007 World Cup after the latter was ruled out with a serious bicep injury. Steyn has only played once for the Springboks this year after a contractual dispute with Saru over image rights.

Swart confirmed yesterday that Steyn would be back with the Sharks next year and was only taking a temporary break from Test match rugby, according to Rapport newspaper.

The Sharks also confirmed that Steyn would join them early in 2015.

Steyn is currently playing for Japanese club Toshiba Brave Lupus but returns to Durban at the end of their season early next year.

The Bok centre has played 53 Tests for the national side, scoring 10 tries, since his debut back in 2006.

After the final match of Northern Hemisphere tour, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer said he wanted to speak with Steyn as well as veteran outside centre Jaque Fourie about returning to the Bok fold after De Villiers’s injury.

Fourie shocked the rugby fraternity last week after announcing his ­retirement from international rugby. He also plays in the Japanese Top League for ­Kobelco Steelers.

The Boks are now lacking experience in the midfield and although 21-year-old Jan Serfontein has been a solid performer at outside centre, his youth and natural affinity at 12 leaves much to be desired in the challenging 13 jersey.

Steyn and Fourie partnered in the centres when the Springboks beat England in the 2007 World Cup final in France. That experience could be vital going into the World Cup next year if De Villiers is unable to return from his injury in time.

Meyer can only hope that both players will commit to returning to the Boks in the coming months as they seem the best answer to a very difficult situation.

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