WATCH: Jean Kleyn will slot in easily for the Springboks, says Jacques Nienaber

Munster's Jean Kleyn ahead of a United Rugby Championship game

FILE - Munster's Jean Kleyn ahead of a United Rugby Championship game. Photo: Ryan Byrne/INPHO/Shutterstock

Published Jun 22, 2023


Durban — The moment Jean Kleyn dropped off the Ireland Test team radar, the Springbok bosses Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber slotted the lock into their Springbok road map.

That is how highly the pair rated the brawny enforcer from Johannesburg. Kleyn last played for Ireland at the 2019 World Cup. So when World Rugby changed the rules regarding eligibility — mostly to help struggling Pacific Island teams Samoa, Tonga and Fiji — the Bok coaches were only too happy to reclaim Steyn for South Africa.

Erasmus and Nienaber are big on using players that have been in their “system” for a long period but in the case of the 29-year-old Steyn, they have no problem bringing in a newcomer.

“Jean knows the majority of the players from his days at the Stormers,” Nienaber pointed out at a press conference this week. “He knows Siya (Kolisi)and Eben (Etzebeth) well. He has played with them. It is also the case with Frans Malherbe and Bongi (Mbonambi). So from a player's perspective, Jean coming into the mix is no issue because he trusts them and they trust him.

“From a coaching point of view, Rassie and I coached him at the Stormers and then at Munster," Nienaber continued. “In fact, it was Rassie who brought Jean over to Munster (from the Stormers). We coached him for two years, so we know what we have in Jean and what he can do for the Boks. That is why we put him on our radar the moment he slipped off the Ireland one.”

Erasmus added that the United Rugby Championship winner is the perfect addition to the tight five depth.

"He is a monster player who has played alongside RG (Snyman)," Erasmus said. Erasmus said. "We often lose locks at the business end of campaigns due to the physical effort we request from them. We therefore felt our lock stocks weren't sufficient. Jean's inclusion strengthens our squad nicely."

Erasmus said that the Springbok selection committee has been monitoring players for some time.

“When Regulation 8 was changed, we had a chance to give input, and we actually voted against that,” Erasmus admitted. “And then World Rugby decided that you can change the national team that you play for. So we immediately started monitoring him as well and look what a brilliant year he has had for Munster. That made picking him easy.”

Kleyn featured in all of Munster’s URC matches, including their victorious final against the Stormers.

Before joining Munster, Kleyn had established himself as a regular in the Stormers squad during the 2015 Super Rugby season, appearing in thirteen of their seventeen matches, including five starts. He helped the Stormers finish top of the South African Conference and also played in their qualifier against the Brumbies, a match won by the Australians.

Kleyn was a key player for a Western Province team attempting to retain their Currie Cup title in 2015 but the side could not emulate their 2014 result, losing 24–32 to the Golden Lions.


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