Legs may be a ‘bit old’, but Morné Steyn still chasing Springbok jersey
CAPE TOWN - He’s played in over 60 Tests and won almost everything in South African rugby, but Morné Steyn’s journey with the Springboks is not yet over – or with the Bulls, for that matter.
Now 36, Steyn has enjoyed a career renaissance at Loftus Versfeld since returning to Pretoria from France last year, having spent over seven years at Stade Francais.
A renowned goal-kicker who holds a number of Bok points-scoring records from his 66 Tests between 2009 and 2016, it has been his creativity on attack that has resulted in Steyn’s name being mentioned about a possible comeback to the green-and-gold for the British and Irish Lions series.
It would be a full-circle moment for Steyn if he had to be called up by Bok coach Jacques Nienaber – having made his Test debut in the 2009 Lions series, where he kicked a match-winning long-range penalty at Loftus Versfeld.
He will have another opportunity to stake his case in Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final against the Lions at the same venue (2pm kick-off), where he will come up against another Bok pivot in Elton Jantjies.
“It will always be a case of you wanting to be better than your opponent, and while you are playing rugby in South Africa, that dream will always be there to play for the Springboks,” Steyn said yesterday.
“I told myself that I didn’t take myself out of Springbok rugby, so every game is a game to prove myself again. And it doesn’t matter how many Tests you have played, it is always about wanting to be the best, and to play for your country again.
“I am looking forward to playing against Elton. Always a good battle between me and him, and he has also had a good year up to now.”
The Bulls stalwart admits that he never thought he would be back in Pretoria. After being told that he is playing like a 26-year-old again, Steyn said: “sometimes the body doesn’t feel like a 26-year-old!”
But he is enjoying his last hurrah so much that “Maybe I can still sign on for another year or two” – which comes after media reports that Johan Goosen will be joining the Bulls next season from Montpellier.
It’s all about Saturday against the Lions right now, though, where he will face another sharp-shooter in Tiaan Swanepoel. Can he still drill those penalties over from 60 metres?
“Hold on, my legs are a bit old ... My limit is now 50 metres ... It makes it difficult for us because you know you cannot concede a penalty in a range of 60 metres, so our big focus will be on our discipline. We must give away as few penalties as possible to prevent them from getting points on the board,” Steyn said.
“A lot of the guys haven’t played in a semi-final – and some of them haven’t played in a Currie Cup before. So, I think it’s a big day for them, but after today’s training and the whole season, everybody’s ready for the game.”