Steyn living for the moment
Record-breaking flyhalf Morné Steyn is the epitome of the maxim: 'Form is temporary, class is permanent.'
Last year this time the vultures were circling, ready to pick on the remaining meat of a 'rotting' corpse.
Critics were certainly calling for him to be put out to pasture, after a slump in form saw his goal-kicking success rate dropped to below the 50 percent mark – even going down to a shocking 25 percent in one match.
Fast forward 12 months and Steyn is back to the form when he helped South Africa secure a series victory over the British and Irish Lions, while also playing a pivotal role in South Africa's Tri-Nations triumph.
While the fickle Springbok fans have done a 360-degree turn, Steyn is taking it all in his stride and "enjoying every moment" in the process.
"You get to the end of your career and you realise you must enjoy your rugby," Steyn said, when asked about his vastly improved form in 2013.
"That is important for me, I am just enjoying every moment on the training field and on the playing field," he told a media briefing ahead of the Boks' Rugby Championship crunch match against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.
Bok backline coach Ricardo Loubscher also heaped praise on the 48-Test veteran for turning it around so quickly.
"Every player goes through certain phases and it is no different for Morné," Loubscher said, when asked about Steyn's improved form.
"We know he is a class player," the backline mentor said, adding: "You don't have to question his credentials as a player, he is a mach-winner and we always knew he will come back.
"It is typical of Morné, he is the kind of player that will bounce back and he did just that."
Steyn has played in a number of big games – the decisive second Test v B&I Lions in 2009, the Tri-Nations decider in '09 and a World Cup quarterfinal in 2011 – and he knows the Boks are facing one of their biggest tests in recent memory, as they head into Saturday's Eden Park showdown.
"Last week we did an awesome job beating the Aussies [38-12 at the Suncorp Stadium] for the first time," Steyn said, adding: "But this game is no different.
"Every game is an important game in the Green and Gold jersey – every game we want to win and we don't go onto the field and think of losing.
"That is the [mindset] of the entire team.
"The confidence is here now and everyone is on the same page – we are looking forward to a great game on Saturday."
It is not just Steyn's form that has improved over the past 12 months.
Last year this time the Boks could show just four wins from nine starts, with two draws thrown in for good measure.
Now, heading into Saturday, they are on a nine-match winning streak and unbeaten in 2013.
"Last year this time a lot of the guys were still youngsters [Test rookies]," Steyn said of a team that appears to have finally found after Heyneke Meyer took over as coach in January 2012.
"A guy like Eben [Etzebeth] had just played one or two Tests," he said of the Boks' struggles to find form last year.
"The time we've been together have also made us a more experienced side and I think the confidence is there now, that is he main thing," he added.
Brief bio for Morné Steyn:
Full names: Morné
Date of birth: 11 July 1984
Place of birth: Bellville, South Africa
School: Sand du Plessis, Bloemfontein
Debut Test – province: Blue Bulls
Physical: 1.83m, 91kg
Current age: 29
Test summary: Tests: 48 Tries: Eight
First Test: 20 June 2009 – Age: 24 – replacement against B&I Lions at Kingspark, Durban
Last Test: 7 September 2013 – Age: 29 – flyhalf against Australia at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Morné Steyn's records:
* World record for most points scored by a player who has scored all their team's points (31).
* Most points scored against New Zealand (31) in a single test
* South African record for penalties in a Test (eight) – beating the seven achieved twice by former fullback and former kicking coach of South Africa, Percy Montgomery.
**All of the above records achieved with his 31 points scored in the 2009 Tri-Nations match against the All Blacks in Durban on 1 August 09
* South African record for most points in a Test against Australia.
* Fastest 100 points by a Springbok (eight Test matches, three as replacement)
* Fastest 200 points by a Springbok (16 Test matches)
* Fastest 300 points by a Springbok (24 Test matches)
* Fastest 400 points by a Springbok (33 Test matches)
* Fastest 500 points by a Springbok (43 Test matches)
* Most drop-goals in a Super Rugby season (11).
* Most points scored against the All Blacks for a Springbok (31).
* Most points in a Tri-Nations match (31).
* Most drop-goals in a Super Rugby game (four) (in the 2009 Super 14 semifinal against the Crusaders)
* Most drop-goals in Super Rugby (25)
* Most drop-goals in a Super Rugby season (11 in 2009)
* Most penalties in a Super Rugby season (51 in 2010)
* Most points in a Super Rugby season (263) – Beating Dan Carter's record of 221 set in 2006.
* Most points by a Bulls player in Super Rugby history (1,467)
* Most points by a South African and first South African to reach 1,000 points in Super Rugby (1,467)
* Steyn also holds the record for most consecutive successful kicks at goal in Test play since statistics for that category were first kept in the late 1980s. He had a streak of 41 successful attempts that ended on 6 November 2010 against Ireland. The previous record was 36, held by Chris Paterson of Scotland.