Durban - He might be in the training colours of the Sharks, but Frans Steyn on Monday was deemed “ready to go” by Sharks director of rugby Jake White after the log leaders regrouped at Kings Park ahead of next week’s Super Rugby match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
A fortnight ago, Steyn took a controversial and unilateral decision to remove himself from the Springbok squad on the Tuesday before the Boks were due to play Wales in Durban.
And while weeks of newspaper headlines have speculated over contractual issues and a chronic knee problem, it was always intimated that his knee injury would benefit from the break of the Wales series, plus this week’s Bok game against Scotland. The refreshed 27-year-old is now focused on guiding the Sharks home to Super Rugby glory, while his Bok teammates have their eyes on the Scots.
Steyn’s eye is on the Sharks, not on the Boks and this surely is the first documented case of a South African rugby player turning his back on the green and gold and nailing his colours to a provincial mast.
In August, Steyn in any case takes up a career in Japan, lest we lose any more tears over his chronic fatigue.
The Sharks have two pool matches to go, and if they win them, they will not only win the SA Conference (which they are certain to do anyway given that the second-placed Bulls cannot catch them), but then by finishing top of the log they can book a home final, should they win their home semi-final. “Frans has had two weeks off to chill out a bit,” White said.
“Looking at the stats, he’s played the second-most amount of rugby for us this year - behind Lwazi Mvovo - and I needed him to have some time off, which he has had and he joined us along with the squad when they all assembled here this morning. He’s all ready to go.”
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer will be moved to tears when he hears this - make of that as you will!
White said that another Springbok flyhalf, Patrick Lambie, is on course to make his comeback when Super Rugby resumes for the South African teams in the week after the Scotland Test in Port Elizabeth.
“Pat is also training with us and has a few things to get right medically,” White said. “There will be a few tests undertaken regarding what he can and can’t do with that bicep, and once he can tick all those boxes then he’ll be ready to go. It all looks positive though, it looks like he’s on track for 10 days.
The Sharks have just got back from a two-week vacation and White said that from a Super Rugby franchise point of view, this was the whole point of the June International break. But the reality is that the contingent of Bok players had to play through this window, and Steyn obviously did not want to be among that number.
As things stand, the Sharks are the only team sure of a home semi-final because they cannot lose the SA Conference. “Our next game is very important, that’s logical, but also because what could happen this weekend when we’re not playing,” White said.