Nienaber goes easy on veteran Frans Steyn after iffy Pumas performance: 'Hats off to him'

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  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said Fran Steyn had to be credited for filling in at 10 against Argentina on Saturday.
  • Steyn had an iffy showing at his old home ground of Kings Park despite the Boks winning 38-21.
  • Nienaber also praised Canan Moodie's performance, but said he's not ready to play in a different position at Test level.

In Durban

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said hats needed to be doffed to Frans Steyn for filling in at 10 as the Boks deal with a crisis in the position.

Steyn, who last played 10 for the Springboks against Italy in Cape Town 14 years ago, had an indifferent tactical and inexplicably nervy showing in Saturday's 38-21 win against Argentina at Kings Park on Saturday.

Steyn played the bulk of his formative rugby at 10 and 12 at school, but once he moved to the professional ranks, he played wherever he was required.

READ | Boks down Pumas, but fail in their Rugby Championship quest

Nienaber said Steyn, who at least was on song from the tee as his tactical kicking and touch-finders deserted him, had to be credited for answering the crisis call in the position.

Nienaber also said they're closer to sorting out their flyhalf depth conundrum as to the start of the international season.

The Boks had Handre Pollard and Damian Willemse (who was at the ground) out injured while Elton Jantjies wasn't part of the squad.

Johan Goosen made his return from injury in the Bulls' 33-31 United Rugby Championship win against Edinburgh at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

READ | Nienaber credits Boks for 'full-on' performance: 'We can't fault the effort'

"There was this big issue of who was going to be the flyhalf and hats off to Frans for this game," Nienaber said.

"He had to slot in there in a very short time and he'll just get better with time. We had two names penciled in at the position with the question of Damian being good enough to play there.

"We always knew we had Johan Goosen with us, and he was returning from injury and I think he played at 15 for the Bulls.

"I'll watch that game in detail during the week, but I think we're in a better position now than where we were in the first Test against Wales.

READ | Bok ratings: Malherbe is scrum maestro in blunt victory

Jesse Kriel's unimaginative showings at 13 have also raised questions about whether Canan Moodie should shift into the position for the end-of-year tour.

With Kurt-Lee Arendse back from his suspension and playing well, while S'bu Nkosi was also called back into the squad, the Boks aren't short of versatile outside back options.

Nienaber was effusive in his praise for Moodie, but said he still needs to learn his game at 14 before he can move elsewhere.

"Canan has played in different positions and the one thing that struck me was his coachability," Nienaber said.

"He doesn't get flustered by information and he can handle that. He's quite a level-headed bloke.

"I don't think many people play Test matches at 19 and he does, so there is something special about him.

"He needs to work hard and grow. He's at the start of his career and he can play in different positions, but for us, we need him to settle into one position.

"He's getting the hang of 14 and he's going to have to fight for his position once a guy like Cheslin comes back.

"There's also Kurt-Lee Arendse operating in the position."

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