Sharks’ Steyn definitely bound for France

2009-06-12 00:00

SPRINGBOK rugby coach Peter de Villiers will have had more than his knickers in a knot yesterday when reports emerged confirming that Frans Steyn would indeed be leaving the Sharks to play in the French Top 14 for Racing Metro.

Stories have circulated for most of the Super 14 season that Steyn would be joining the French club once he had seen out his Sharks contract at the end of this year and he even travelled to Paris with his agent when John Plumtree’s team had their Super 14 bye at the end of April.

Steyn’s eagerness to move to France seemed certain to cost him a place in the Springbok squad to face the British Lions, as De Villiers publicly stated that he would select players committed to Springbok and South African rugby.

But somehow Steyn managed to convince De Villiers that he had not signed for Racing Metro and he was included in the 28-man Springbok squad for the Test series against the Lions.

Indeed, with De Villiers failing to name a specialist fullback, it is believed that Steyn is the first-choice No 15, taking over from the injured Conrad Jantjes in the No 15 jersey.

Quite what De Villiers will do now, if Steyn has indeed signed, remains to be seen but it would be a major blow for the Springbok team if the talented utility back is now omitted. Either way, it is a disruption that the Bok team, already short of match practice and preparation, does not need.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl said last night that only Steyn and his lawyer agent (Gerrie Swart) would know the latest details in this long-running soap opera.

“We (the Sharks) have heard nothing from them,” said Van Zyl.

Steyn, according to the leading French newsaper L’Equipe has signed a contract for Racing for a period of three years but he hopes to return to the Boks for the 2011 World Cup.

Steyn told the newspaper he hoped to grow as a person and player after experiencing French culture.

His agent, Swart, had another reason for the 22-year-old Steyn’s reported move — a desire to escape the limelight.

”You don’t realise what kind of pressure there is on a guy who was 19 and won his first World Cup with South Africa — on the field and especially off of the field,” Swart told News24.

The fact that the he will be under the supervision of the former All Black flyhalf, Andrew Mehrtens, is another factor.

”He is certainly not turning his back on SA rugby. Another reason is that he is very young and has a long career ahead of him. Mehr-tens will also be there and he is a good teacher for any guy who wants to play for a long time,” said Swart.

”We don’t yet know when the start of his contract is (with Racing Metro). It has to be cleared with the Sharks and SA Rugby. But he is contracted to the Sharks until after the Currie Cup series and … [his move] cannot therefore be earlier than November 1.”


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