Morné Steyn: 50 caps and kicking

2013-09-29 14:00

Morné Steyn’s achievements were no easy feat but the result of hard work and determination, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku.

Yesterday, the metronomic Springbok fly half Morné Steyn played in his 50th test, a first for any Springbok fly half.

To put his feat into perspective, one needs to look at the two generals who steered the Springboks to 1995 World Cup glory.

They both hail from KwaZulu-Natal and went to Maritzburg College.

Tough tackling Andrew “Butch” James (42 caps) smoothed off his rough edges during the successful 2007 World Cup campaign to the point where he was unrecognisable from the James of six years earlier, when he was notorious for big hits that were often judged to be illegal.

Joel Stransky (22 caps) will always be mentioned with rugby’s archangels for his drop goal in the Ellis Park final against New Zealand 12 years earlier.

Stransky and James have a combined 64 caps, not much more than Steyn’s 50 caps.

More importantly, they scored a combined total of 394 points (154 for James and 240 for Stransky) compared with the Blue Bulls player’s huge 598-point haul.

But what they do have over him are two World Cup-winning medals.

Steyn has three Super Rugby winners’ medals, a Tri Nations winner’s medal and a series win over the British and Irish Lions in 2009, which he says he holds very close to his heart.

Steyn rates current Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer as one of the driving forces behind his success.

Meyer candidly said he felt Steyn was not one of the most talented play makers around, but said talent will always be outweighed by hard work.

It was a compliment that brought a smile from Steyn.

“I was at the Bulls when Heyneke arrived in 2003 and I wasn’t the best kicker. I didn’t even kick for the Vodacom Cup sides or the Under-21 teams at that time.

“I decided to put in the work with Vlok Cilliers and, well, here I am today,” said the shy Steyn.

“It was Heyneke who said if I wanted to play at a higher level, I had to improve my kicking game. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am now. All the credit has to go to him.”

Until now, of all the major test playing countries, South Africa was the only one without a fly half who had reached 50 caps.

This could point to the haphazard selection policies by the multitude of Bok coaches from 1992, but under former coach Peter de Villiers and now Meyer, Steyn has been a stalwart.

While he has had shortcomings in terms of taking the ball to the gain line, his contribution to points on the board has often made him the Boks’ match winner.

He hasn’t been spared the axe either, with Meyer dropping him for the back end of the Rugby Championship last year, and he admits that going through some sort of trough to find yourself again is a part of most careers.

“Every player has to go through a phase where things go wrong and they aren’t able to put a finger on why it’s happening.

“I just decided to go back to the training field and work harder and now I can say it’s paying off.

“It is a big test in any sportsman’s life when things aren’t going well for you. Some just want to sit down while others decide they want to work harder and get back to number one, which is basically what I did,” he said.

On his journey, he had to endure much criticism, but he proved that what he brings to the team is far more valuable than the things people say he can’t do.

Stenson’s stats


Born: April 5 1976

Nationality: Swedish

Residence: Orlando, US


Turned pro: 1998

Current tours: PGA Tour (joined in 2007) and European Tour (joined in 2001)

Number of wins by tour

PGA: 4

Euro Tour: 7

Asian Tour: 1

Sunshine Tour: 1

Challenge Tour: 3

Other: 2

Achievements and awards

Challenge Tour: 2000

Ranking winner: 2013

FedEx Cup: 2013

Best results in major championships

Masters: T17 in 2007 and 2008

US Open: 9th in 2009

The Open: 2nd in 2013

PGA Championship: 3rd in 2013

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