Frans Steyn: I thought my World Cup days were over

Frans Steyn (Gallo)
Frans Steyn (Gallo)

Cape Town - 2015 became a tragic year for Frans Steyn and his family when, in August, his brother Wimpie committed suicide on the family farm in Bethlehem. 

It was an incredibly sad story and one that gripped the South African rugby public.

Steyn, who was in the Springbok set-up at the time despite suffering from a chest injury, was being looked at as a possible inclusion in Heyneke Meyer's Springbok squad despite having played his last Test before that in 2012. 

As it turns out, Steyn never got a look-in as he understandably devoted all of his time to his grieving family, and when the squad for the global showpiece was announced later that month, his name was not included. 

"There were things that happened there in my personal life with my family, and at that stage of my life I was actually more relieved to be at home with my parents," he said in Johannesburg on Monday, looking back to that dark time in 2015. 

Steyn adds that, at that time, he never thought he would get to play in another World Cup. 

"Definitely. In 2015, before I left to go for France again, I thought it was my last," he said after that year's squad announcement.

Now, Steyn is back for one last push and he is considered a crucial member of Rassie Erasmus' Bok squad given his experience and ability to cover a range of positions off the bench. 

"Rugby is a funny sport and I can just be grateful that I get another opportunity," the 32-year-old said. 

Steyn is the only man in the Bok squad to have tasted World Cup glory previously having been part of the triumphant 2007 squad, while he is one of three players playing in his third World Cup. 

The others are Tendai Mtawarira and Francois Louw. 

This time around, Steyn is looking to enjoy every minute. He knows that he is nearing the end of his career. 

"I'm just going to have fun and try and do the best that I can," he said.

"I'm at a stage now where you know there is not going to be 10 more years to make a wrong right, so I get a little bit more serious before a Test match."

Despite his abundant experience, Steyn acknowledges that fitting back into the Bok set-up was a difficult challenge. 

When he made his comeback in 2017 under Allister Coetzee, it was the first time that Steyn had played international rugby in nearly five years. 

"It did take some time to get used to everything. From the previous time I was here until now, things changed," he said. 

In Erasmus, though, Steyn has a coach who he can trust. 

"I've known Rassie for a long time now," he said.

"When I played my first Currie Cup campaign (for the Sharks in 2006) he was coaching the Cheetahs.

"I really like Rassie. He looks at rugby a different way and sees everything about it differently.

"He's always been honest with me and I think that's the big thing for a rugby player these days ... you just want honesty."

Steyn and the Boks leave for Japan on Friday while their first match at the World Cup will be against defending champions and pre-tournament favourites New Zealand.

Springboks' 31-man Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (17)

Schalk Brits (Bulls), Lood de Jager (Bulls), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Saracens, England), Siya Kolisi (captain, Stormers), Francois Louw (Bath, England), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Lions), Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Franco Mostert (Gloucester, England), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Kwagga Smith (Lions), RG Snyman (Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)

Backs (14)

Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, England), Warrick Gelant (Bulls), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse, France), Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), S'bu Nkosi (Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz, Japan), Handre Pollard (Bulls), Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints, England), Frans Steyn (Montpellier, France)

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
40% - 15084 votes
12% - 4664 votes
19% - 7066 votes
3% - 989 votes
1% - 374 votes
2% - 907 votes
5% - 1915 votes
9% - 3267 votes
4% - 1358 votes
Water sports
1% - 345 votes
American sports
1% - 470 votes
3% - 1263 votes