Cape Town - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee says ‘issues’ with Frans Steyn’s French club have contributed to his ongoing omission from the national team.
The utility back played the last of his 56 Tests against France in Johannesburg in June this year, but did not feature in the Rugby Championship and was also not included in the 34-man squad for the current year-end tour in Europe.
Steyn plays for Montpellier in the French Top 14 and Coetzee on Monday said the player’s Springbok future depends on his commitment to the club.
Coetzee was speaking at a press conference in Padua as the Boks prepared for this weekend's Test against Italy.
Coetzee also commented on the availability of centre Jan Serfontein, who recently also joined Montpellier, as well as Pat Lambie, who plays for Racing 92.
Coetzee said Serfontein was given time to settle at his new club, while Lambie - who only recently returned from injury - was not picked as the Boks were “covered” at flyhalf.
Steyn’s scenario however appears a bit more complicated.
“I had a chat to Frans Steyn recently,” Coetzee was quoted as saying by Netwerk24. “I don’t think the issues are all sorted out. We need to chat to his club about whether they will allow him to play or not. These guys also sit with long-term contracts and there is the danger of them not retaining those contracts if they play for the Boks.”
Coetzee admitted that it was tough for the overseas-based players to leave their clubs and play for the Boks.
“Even speaking to Duane (Vermeulen)... it was a bit of a battle to get him here with the team (last week). It’s the player who must make the decision. Certain players are not clear-cut at their clubs, in terms of their futures, and they wouldn’t want to risk sacrificing that. So it’s not a clear-cut situation,” Coetzee was quoted as saying by SA Rugbymag.
“There is a regulation 9 that allows players to play Tests (during the international windows in June and November), now players have to make a decision, 'either I retire from international rugby or I give up my contract and look to go back to South Africa'. I don’t know whether there is an alternative at this point in time...” the Bok coach continued.