‘New challenge’ for Steyn

2013-01-16 00:00

MORNÉ Steyn’s drop in the pecking order of Springbok flyhalves has resulted in him planning to quit South Africa and follow Bryan Habana and Juandré Kruger to France.

The 28-year-old Steyn began last year as Heyneke Meyer’s first-choice flyhalf, but he battled to kick with his usual authority and youngsters Pat Lambie, Johan Goosen and even Elton Jantjies were preferred at various stages of the season.

His fall from favour, according to Pretoria reports yesterday, has resulted in him seeking a career overseas and he is looking to leave the Bulls after the Super Rugby season to join the Top 14 French club Stade Francais.

Last week, Springbok wing Habana confirmed a recent Witness story that he had signed with French club Toulon after the 2013 Super Rugby season. The three-year deal will see Habana make the move to the south of France as the 2013/14 Top 14 season gets underway.

Bulls and Springbok lock Kruger has signed for Racing Metro.

Steyn, like Habana and Kruger, is hoping to continue playing for the Springboks and the Bulls flyhalf has spoken to Meyer about his proposed move.

Meyer, in regularly selecting Francois Louw and Ruan Pienaar last year, has kept the door open to overseas-based players, and Habana, Kruger and Steyn are hoping this policy continues.

Steyn is contracted until after the Currie Cup in October and he will have to secure an early release from the Blue Bulls if he is to join his French club before the start of the European season.

Steyn’s agent, Johan van Greune, confirmed that Steyn was in talks with Stade Francais.

Van Greune said a move overseas was in Steyn’s best interests at this stage of his career.

“Obviously Morné’s not getting younger, so he’s decided to take on a new challenge of playing overseas,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Sanzar yesterday announced the full draw for the second year of the Rugby Championship and the Springboks will again start their campaign with home and away internationals against Argentina.

They will face the Pumas in Bloemfontein on August 17 before travelling to the Argentine a week later. A weekend bye follows before the Boks face the Wallabies in Brisbane — where they have consistently struggled in the past — on September 7.

The South Africans’ toughest game of the tournament is at Eden Park in Auckland the next week when they face the world champion All Blacks on September 14.

The Boks end the Rugby Championship with home Tests against Australia at Newlands (September 28) and New Zealand at Ellis Park (October 5).

Sanzar CEO Greg Peters said yesterday that the inaugural year in 2012 proved an overwhelming success, with the unbeaten All Blacks taking the title and the Pumas making their debut in the southern hemisphere tournament.

“The Rugby Championship will again feature the best teams in the world with the recent end-of-year Tests yielding 10 victories for our competing rugby nations.

“The Pumas claimed a historic win in Cardiff against Six Nations champions Wales, the Springboks went through Europe unbeaten, while the All Blacks and Wallabies won three of their four Tests.”

Peters said the new dimension that Argentina brought to the Rugby Championship was evident with the fan response through the six rounds.

“A total of over 16 million viewers tuned into the 12 Tests of the Rugby Championship and an average of 44 000 attended the matches, which saw stadiums at 91% capacity, with the 88 739 crowd that saw the All Blacks come back from a half-time deficit to defeat the Springboks 32-16 in Soweto, the most attended match of the season,” Peters said.

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