Wanted: Accomplished flyhalf who can play Test rugby
REACTION: South Africa has a vacancy in a key position in the national team and the Springbok coach is looking for a suitable candidate.
Hopeful ‘applicants’ can submit their curriculum vitae by producing standout performances on the field.
The vacancy was created when Morne Steyn, who twice landed series-winning penalties against the British and Irish Lions, announced his retirement from international rugby.
Bok coach Jacques Nienaber on Tuesday confirmed Steyn, 37, is unavailable for the year-end tour.
The 68-times capped Bok legend will, however, still be available to play for the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship.
Steyn, who kicked the series-clinching penalties in the second Test of the 2009 tour at Loftus Versfeld and also the third Test of the 2021 visit by the B&I Lions in Cape Town, has been mostly a back-up to Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies this year.
He played just two Tests – coming off the bench to land the winning penalty against the B&I Lions in Cape Town on August 7 and also featuring as a reserve in the 32-12 win over Argentina in Port Elizabeth a week later.
Steyn made his Test debut against the B&I Lions in Durban in 2009 and his 68th international was against Los Pumas during this year’s Rugby Championship campaign.
Asked why he has not included another specialist flyhalf in the squad, following the retirement of Steyn, Nienaber spoke of the “versatility” in the team.
“It is not that we are not looking at any young flyhalves,” Nienaber said, adding: “If you look at the URC there some nice young talent coming through and players who could feel disappointed not being in the squad.
“There have been some good performances in the URC.
“The door is not shut on any of them.
“If they keep knocking the door down, as Jasper [Wiese] did, that will open the door for them.”
Speaking about the flyhalf position, Nienaber pointed to incumbent Handre Pollard, who is still only 27 and will only be 29 at the next World Cup.
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“Handré, although he has played more than 50 Tests, is still a relatively young flyhalf.
“Elton [Jantjies] is 31 and will be around 33 going into the next World Cup.
“We are fortunate in that position.”
He added that there are a couple of ‘young’ flyhalves in the mix on the domestic scene that they are looking at.
“We went with Morne [Steyn] into the British and Irish Lions series and the Rugby Championship, because we wanted a little more experience.
“Morne has announced his retirement from international rugby, so there is a spot open.
“We will keep on looking.”
The Bok coach, in paying tribute to the retired veteran, said Steyn has been a “great servant” to South African rugby.
“Hats of to him in terms of what he has delivered on the rugby field – the magic he created against the British and Irish Lions, beating them twice.
“The manner in which he did it speaks volumes for him as a player.”
Nienaber added that off the field Steyn was just as “phenomenal” as on it.
“This last 20 weeks he always contributed, always painted good pictures, always helped us prepare the team.
“He was never hesitant to share his wisdom with the younger players.”
The coach said Steyn is a “big family man”, which was the deciding factor in his decision to retire.
“With COVID-19, access in and out of the squads wasn’t that easy for family members. He really missed his family.
“We felt there was still a role for him to play up till 2023, but we are all in different stages of our lives and we respect his decision.”
Apart from his 68 Tests, Steyn won three Super 14 titles with the Bulls – 2007, 2009 and 2010 – having played more than 200 first-class games for the Pretoria franchise, before heading to France in 2013, where he played 130-odd games for Stade Français.