Cape Town – He may be hanging up his playing boots in June, but Morné Steyn’s kicking boots are going nowhere.
In fact, they are likely to remain at Loftus Versfeld, as the veteran flyhalf says he is in talks with the Bulls to become a kicking coach.
The 38-year-old former Springbok pivot announced this week that while he is busy establishing his own MS10 kicking academy, he is hoping to remain involved in the game at the highest level once he retires at the end of the season.
And his work will entail much more than just taking shots at goal.
“I am in talks to remain involved at the Bulls, specifically as a kicking coach. I’ve often seen with teams that when it gets difficult in matches, you can always see a correlation with the kicking game not being up to scratch,” Steyn said in a statement.
“In the United Rugby Championship, and generally in the game at the highest level, the kicking game has become increasingly important. Your counter-attack is built on a strong kicking game.
“If your kicking game is weak or your aerial skills are weak, you cannot put the other team under pressure. The teams are all getting better and better at this aspect of the game.”
Steyn has a prolific goal-kicking record, and ended his Bok career with 742 points in 68 Tests from 2009 to 2021, second only to Percy Montgomery’s 893 from 102 games.
The sharp-shooter was also outstanding in Super Rugby, where he amassed 1 488 points – second behind Dan Carter’s 1 708.
But a smart part of his game was the cross-kick, which has come into play regularly in modern rugby, and he hopes to pass on those skills to youngsters coming through the school system as well.
“I look at my own school career where I just taught myself to kick. My good friend Ruan Pienaar’s dad Gysie gave us a few tips and helped us. But generally it was a case of me and Ruan taking a few balls and kicking to each other. I did the same with my brothers. I kind of grew up on the side of the rugby field with my dad who coached, and I taught myself how to kick,” Steyn said.
“There wasn’t actual coaching for me. It was really just a case of the more you do something, the better you become at it.
“At school, I kicked for my team purely because there wasn’t anybody else. At Craven Week level, other players kicked.
“But when I arrived at the Bulls in my under-20 year, coach Heyneke Meyer told me that if I wanted to play at a high level, I would have to work harder on my kicking. That’s when it really dawned on me what working hard in this game really means.
“I put in hours trying to improve my kicking, with the help of the then-kicking coach Vlok Cilliers. Through that process, I realised just how much you need to sacrifice and how much hard work you need to put in if you want to get to the top in this game.
“I would’ve rated myself as a 50-60 percent-quality kicker before I started really working on improving this area of my game and becoming a 80-90 percent-quality kicker. Through hard work and drills, you can definitely improve your kicking.
“It takes a lot of sacrifice and hard work to become a good kicker. You need that desire and perseverance.”