Nelspruit - When Morné Steyn produces the kind of rugby he dished up against Wales in the first Test in Durban last week, it leaves one wondering why there was ever any doubt about his ability to hang on to the No10 jersey until the World Cup next year.
The Springbok flyhalf was slow out of the blocks against the World XV in Cape Town but he produced arguably one of his best performances in a Bok jersey last Saturday. Looking rejuvenated after spending a season in France, the 55-time capped No10 kicked six out of six at poles, while his distribution and option-taking ensured the Boks dominated.
Steyn, who now plays for Stade Francais but spent much of the last Top 14 season playing off the bench, said he was feeling “fresh” having not being asked to play week-in and week-out, as was the case when he donned the Bulls jersey for so many years.
“It’s just great to be here, to be back with all the guys. I am enjoying my rugby at the moment,” he said on Wednesday.
“I want to play every game and you don’t like it when you sit on the bench. But I think it was a good thing for me not to play all the games ... I think I put in the hard yards in Super Rugby the previous year. I am feeling fresh.”
With Pat Lambie still on the injured list and Johan Goosen again missing out on a Bok Test this weekend because of injury, Steyn will again be the man coach Heyneke Meyer looks to to get the best out of the Bok back division.
Steyn admits he was a little concerned at times while in France that Meyer would overlook him for the Test season. “I want to play every Test and when you’re overseas you wonder whether you’re playing enough rugby for the Bok coach to notice you.”
Meyer never had to “notice” Steyn - he knows full well what he has in his flyhalf, no matter where he plays. Sadly, the other flyhalf Meyer has backed to come good for the Boks, Goosen, will miss out this week, after hurting his knee in Durban last weekend.
“I feel for Johan,” said Meyer. “What people don’t realise is that he’s only 21 years old but it feels like he’s been around for 10 years. He’s one of the brightest stars I’ve ever coached, he’s unbelievable in all areas of the game. He is so physical and he puts his body on the line and goes into rucks.
“But with all these unfortunate injuries he can’t seem to find his rhythm. I am definitely worried about him. Luckily it’s not a big injury this time. We did scans and we’ll do more scans so hopefully the injury isn’t too bad and that he will only be out for a week or two.”