Cape Town - The concern about the injury to Johan Goosen has been allayed somewhat by the news that Morné Steyn has signed a contract extension with the Bulls.
On Friday night, Blue Bulls Rugby Union president Willem Strauss posted a message on WhatsApp that the veteran flyhalf will remain at Loftus Versfeld for an additional year.
"Morné Steyn’s contract has been extended to June 2023! This product of Sand du Plessis HS in Bloemfontein’s value as mentor and player is immeasurable.A true Bulls and Springbok legend of his generation!" Strauss wrote.
Steyn was initially contracted until the end of the 2022 season, but Bulls coach Jake White will be delighted that the No 10 has opted to stretch his career for another campaign.
Goosen has been outstanding as a pivot in recent months, but sustained a serious knee injury in the United Rugby Championship clash against Connacht in Galway recently.
Goosen had tried to change direction, but his studs got stuck in the 4G surface, and he went down without an opponent having touched him.
He has had surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) in his left knee, and can be out for anything between six and nine months.
White has said that he will give Goosen as much time as possible to recover fully, with the Bulls wary of bringing him back too soon, following Gio Aplon's second ACL injury last season, despite having recovered from his first such injury.
And now that Steyn will be available until June 2023, White will feel comfortable that he has the required resources at flyhalf, with Chris Smith the other senior player in that position.
White has indicated that there are a few promising flyhalves coming through the junior ranks, and with Steyn and Smith around, he is unlikely to sign another No 10.
“With Morné and Chris who can play 10, it would be nice to get a third player. But with our juniors, we have a flyhalf here and there who can support us. We are also busy getting another 10-15 who is going to sign for us at the end of the month. He is still a junior, but with our third-choice, we have enough to go on until the end of the season in June,” White said previously.
“If you consider that June is seven months away, that is the end of this block – we start again in September. In all likelihood, round one of the September games, hopefully he is available for that. But if he comes back in round three or four, then so be it.
“That’s just me. Having chatted to Johan, he is important to us and I don’t really want to (rush him back). We can put him on ice now, and what I’ve learnt from the medical staff is that the longer you leave it, the more comfortable the player gets. The running, the balance, understanding where the foot and leg is again… We will wait with Johan, as we have Chris and Morné for one-and-half-years at least.”
Another positive for the Bulls is that following his retirement from Test rugby last week, the 37-year-old Steyn will be available to play for his franchise throughout the season.
He was missed in the first few rounds of the URC as the Bulls lost to Leinster and Connacht, due to being on the Rugby Championship tour with the Springboks in Australia.
Steyn didn’t get any game time against the Wallabies and All Blacks, but only joined the Bulls squad in the final week of their European trip, and played as a replacement in the 17-10 loss against Edinburgh.
The Bulls will resume their URC tournament on Saturday, November 27, when they host Irish side Munster at Loftus Versfeld (7.45pm kickoff), where 2 000 spectators will be allowed to attend the match.
They then take on Welsh outfit the Scarlets in Pretoria on Friday, December 3 (7.35pm).