Nienaber reveals Springboks had a 2023 Schalk Brits-type plan for 'brilliant' Morne Steyn

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Morne Steyn. (Photo by EJ Langner/Gallo Images)
Morne Steyn. (Photo by EJ Langner/Gallo Images)
  • The Springboks planned to use Morne Steyn as a Schalk Brits-like veteran for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, but the Bulls pivot decided to call it a day at international level. 
  • Bok mentor Jacques Nienaber revealed the plan in announcing his squad for the tour to Europe, but stated that management fully supports Steyn's decision.
  • Nienaber hailed the 37-year-old flyhalf as a proverbial magic-maker.

The Springboks were eyeing Morne Steyn to fulfil a similar role to Schalk Brits at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, but family considerations meant the evergreen veteran flyhalf chose not to chomp at the dangling carrot.

Springbok mentor Jacques Nienaber made the admission on Tuesday following his squad announcement for next month's end-of-year tour to Europe, revealing that the 37-year-old Bulls legend's extensive involvement in this year's international campaign was part of a plan give to him a shot at glory as well as harnessing his "Rugby IQ".

Brits, the popular genial and skilful hooker, was notably 39 when he helped lift the Webb Ellis trophy in Japan two years ago.

READ | Springboks tour Europe without several stars with Moerat, Williams only new faces

"We wouldn't have put him in the Lions and Rugby Championship groups if we didn't feel there was a role for him to play up to 2023," said Nienaber.

"Morne's rugby IQ is so high and his intellectual capital vast. He was always eager share his insights. But we're 100% comfortable with his decision, we respect it fully. In my communication with him, he said that he believes there's about two years of competitive play left in him and he'd like to enjoy it with the Bulls."

One major factor is the strict logistics regarding bio-secure environments on tours.

"We're all in different phases of our lives and Morne's is also unique. We embrace that and understand it," said Nienaber.

"What tilted towards his retirement is that he's a big family man and I think, especially with Covid and access, it's not easy for family to come into bubbles."

Steyn ends with 742 points from his 68 Tests, the Boks' second most prolific point scorer, and Nienaber hailed the solid, pragmatic No 10 as a proverbial magic-maker.

"What can you say? He's just been such a great servant to SA rugby and a brilliant rugby player. Hats off to him in terms of what he's delivered on the field. He created magic, like the contests against the Lions and winning it twice. It speaks volumes.

"He was phenomenal working with this last 20 weeks. He always contributed, painted good pictures, helped prepare the team and was never afraid to give his input to the younger players."

His spot in the current squad has been left vacant, with Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies chosen as the only specialist tens on tour.

Springbok squad

Thomas du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Joseph Dweba, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Salmaan Moerat, Marvin Orie, Siya Kolisi, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese, Franco Mostert

Herschel Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Grant Williams, Elton Jantjies, Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Aphelele Fassi, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Frans Steyn, Damian Willemse 

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