Steyn, coach hope to bury the hatchet

2010-05-28 00:00

FRANS Steyn’s future with the Springboks will be decided at a crisis meeting with national coach Peter de Villiers in Johannesburg today.

Steyn told Peter Jooste, the convenor of national selectors, last week that he is available to play against Wales in Cardiff next weekend and he was one of the half-dozen overseas players included in the patchwork Springbok team.

But a member of the Springbok management team told The Witness yesterday that Steyn had suddenly withdrawn from the team.

“He sent De Villiers a text earlier this week informing of his withdrawal, apparently because he fears his poor relationship with the coach will split the team.”

De Villiers said he has not spoken to Steyn since the prodigiously-talented young player left to play for Racing Metro in France last year.

But, according to De Villiers, it is the player’s agent and lawyer Gerrie Swart who is poisoning Steyn’s mind.

The young utility back does not wish to play for the Springboks as a result of the “lies” he has been told by his agent, De Villiers told reporters.

De Villiers says he wants to meet Steyn face-to-face. The utility back is on holiday on his family farm in the Free State, and clear the air.

It is believed that Swart and Jooste will both attend the Johannesburg meeting.

Steyn last played for the Springboks in Hamilton last year when he booted three massive penalties, all from well over 50 metres, in a historic 32-29 win as South Africa took the Tri-Nations title.

If Steyn and De Villiers cannot resolve their differences, the Bok selectors will have to find a replacement fullback for Cardiff this weekend.

The Bulls’ Zane Kirchner and Joe Pietersen (Stormers) are the two favourites, but the strongly-built Free State fullback, Hennie Daniller, has reportedly been asked to make travel arrangements and he could be the surprise replacement.

But what happens in Johannesburg today is far more important. The Rugby World Cup is just a year away and the Springboks need all the help they can get if they are to retain the trophy.

The powerful presence of the 23-year-old Steyn, who can play at flyhalf, centre, wing or fullback, would be a major boost, and South African rugby followers will be hoping that coach and player bury their differences, and their egos, in Johannesburg today.

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