JOHANNESBURG - He’s walked the high streets of Paris, experienced the glitz and glamour of Tokyo, and captured the beauty of southern France, but for Frans Steyn, Bloemfontein is still best.
After 15 years of being on the road, Steyn is back “home” in the city that moulded him into a player who would go on to win World Cup winner’s medals in 2007 and 2019.
The 33-year-old is now based in Bloemfontein, where he went to school at Grey College and learned his rugby trade, and a contracted Cheetahs player after joining the Sharks from straight out of high school and then later going on to play for Racing Metro in Paris, the Brave Lupus in Tokyo and Montpellier in the south of France.
“It’s so nice being back in a town where everyone can understand you and speaks your language,” said a chatty Steyn this week.
He and his teammates only recently returned to proper on-field training following a four-month suspension of all sport, following the outbreak of Covid-19.
“I’m an Afrikaans guy and the people here in Bloem speak Afrikaans it’s lekker. It’s also nice going into shops and recognising stuff on the shelves. South African food is also still the best.”
Steyn spent five years in a hostel at Grey, after growing up in the Bethlehem area of the Eastern Free State.
“I’ve obviously been back to Bloemfontein over the years with the Springboks and when I was at the Sharks, but this is a little more permanent. I’ve got kids now who need to go to school.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but for now I’m settled here and enjoying it. I can for a change understand what people around me are saying.”
Steyn, who was a bit of a surprise inclusion in Rassie Erasmus’ World Cup squad last year, is one of only two South African players to have won two World Cups - the other being Os du Randt, who won his in 1995 and 2007.
So far Steyn has played 67 Tests for the Springboks and may well add to that number next year when the British & Irish Lions visit.
Front of his mind right now though is just getting back on the field and playing some sort of rugby.
“We need to play again,” said Steyn. “I hope it happens soon. I think we all need a boost.”
But while Steyn may have tons of experience of having played all over the world, he’s actually a little stressed about pulling on the Cheetahs jersey.
“I’m nervous, just like I was last year when I was called into the Boks squad again,” confessed the veteran utility back.
“I didn’t know if I was still up to it last year, and I don’t know if I am up to it now. I’ll really only know what I can offer, whether it’s good or bad, once we start playing again. I’m hoping everything goes well though because I’d like to play for a few more years. I still enjoy it a lot.”
If all goes well, rugby fans could see Steyn in action in the next few weeks if SA Rugby get the green light from the government to stage an eight-team Currie Cup-like competition.
The competition, which will include the four Super Rugby teams - the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers, as well as the two Pro14 sides, the Cheetahs and Kings, and also Griquas and the Pumas, is anticipated to kick off in the second week of September and run until the middle of December.