Heyneke Meyer: Morne Steyn a Bok contender because he can 'still walk into any team'

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Morne Steyn. (Anton Geyser/Gallo Images)
Morne Steyn. (Anton Geyser/Gallo Images)
  • Morne Steyn can still "walk into any team" and be a key player, according to former Bulls and Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
  • The evergreen 36-year-old is seemingly a serious contender for a return to the Springboks after being invited to last week's national alignment camp.
  • Meyer believes the veteran pivot's calmness is unmatched and that his focus on fitness and on what he does best renders him a dangerous prospect for the opposition.

Former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer believes the evergreen Morne Steyn can "still walk into any team".

The 36-year-old Bulls flyhalf, who has been a standout presence in Jake White's revival of the franchise's on-field fortunes, reportedly joined last week's first Springbok alignment camp, suggesting that he's still very much in the frame for a sensational international comeback against the British & Irish Lions later this year.

In fact, it was at his mentor Meyer's insistence that the Bulls lured him back to Loftus at the end of 2019.

READ | Bulls sign utility back from Griquas

"Morne is an absolute star," he told Sport24.

"The wonderful thing about him is that he's got to where he's at through his work ethic. It's always just been about putting in the hard yards and by doing that, he's now even still in a position where he join any team and almost immediately become a key player. 

"When the Bulls made enquiries about him about two years ago - when we were both still at Stade Francais - I told them from the outset that he'd be their man. He's an unbelievable athlete, in absolute prime shape."

To illustrate Steyn's enduring fitness, Meyer points out that Steyn, who's scored 766 points in 66 Tests, has only missed approximately five training sessions that he's aware of in a career now stretching 18 years.

"I couldn't believe it myself, but I promise you it's accurate," the 53-year-old, boasting a highly respectable 67% winning percentage as national coach between 2012 and 2015, said.

"I've coached him since he was 18. We were together at the Bulls, Springboks and Stade. Morne's almost never injured and he's always consistent. He's almost like a Frenchman, he just goes out and enjoys his rugby."

Despite being renowned for an ice-cool temperament, Steyn's deadly accurate kicking boot was down to one difficult day on a mid-season tour to Georgia as a 19-year-old.

"We were playing a pretty average Georgian team and scored 13 tries. Morne missed eight of his kicks at goal and I'm not kidding when I tell you they were easy ones," said Meyer.

"So I rope in my good friend Dave Aldred, who was Jonny Wilkinson's kicking coach. He actually helped me quite a few times at the Bulls. He worked a bit with Morne and he just flourished thereafter.

"When Morne was lining up that 50m penalty in the second Test in 2009 against the Lions, I was sitting in a Loftus suite. I told everyone he was going to kick it over because he had literally practiced those type of kicks a thousand times before."

Except for that prowess, Steyn's tactical awareness and calmness remains uparralleled among South African-based flyhalves, with White last year stating that "his greatest strength is that he knows exactly what he can do and can't".

Meyer subscribes to the same school of thought.

"That's what makes him so brilliant. He's not going out and reinventing himself. He's doing what he does best," he said.

"It was a constant battle to get people to see that. Everybody always wants to follow the New Zealand way. But we've seen with the World Cup win that our way works even better.

"Morne is the best for our way, you can't ever expect a player to be someone different. That's what makes him one of the best." 

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