Frans Steyn and Lood de Jager of the Springboks after the win during the The Rugby Championship match between SA and Australia at Emirates Airline Park on July 20 2019 in Johannesburg. Picture: SYNDEY SESHIBEDI/GALLO IMAGES
Frans Steyn and Lood de Jager of the Springboks after the win during the The Rugby Championship match between SA and Australia at Emirates Airline Park on July 20 2019 in Johannesburg. Picture: SYNDEY SESHIBEDI/GALLO IMAGES

Now vastly experienced‚ Frans Steyn has been unleashed on the international scene. 

He is barely recognisable from the precociously gifted 19-year-old who made his Test debut in 2006 and got to lift the Webb Ellis Cup a year later.

The flowing locks are gone and, with time‚ maturity and, dare we say‚ wisdom have been bestowed on Steyn while he plied his trade in France.

Steyn‚ who last played for the Springboks in 2017‚ was supposed to be back in the set-up in 2018 but injury precluded his involvement.

“I got injured in the final. I couldn’t lift my arm. There was something on the bone. It was tough. I’m just glad Rassie [Erasmus] gave me another chance‚” said Steyn after the Boks beat the Wallabies 35-17 at Ellis Park.

“I can’t remember when last I played here. It can be 10 years‚” said Steyn‚ whose memory clearly failed him.

The last time he played for the Boks was in fact at Ellis Park two years ago.

“It was something special‚” he continued. “I tried enjoying it as much as I can because they can send me back to France tomorrow. And then it’s over.”

Steyn‚ whose last four Test appearances have all been off the bench‚ admits there is such detail to the Bok method these days that it takes a while to take it all in.

“I’m still trying to get into Rassie’s game plan and structures that they have‚” he said.

“No-one is ever happy not to start, but I’m actually happy I didn’t start because I’m still trying to get used to the structures and the stuff.

“In France I can’t say we don’t get coached that well, but Rassie and his team have really stepped up and it is very professional.”

Steyn appears less impetuous than he was when he left SA for Racing Metro a decade ago.

He is level-headed enough to know his selection now isn’t necessarily a guaranteed path to World Cup selection.

“I don’t know. That’s Rassie’s decision‚” he said. “I’m here enjoying my time. My wife is in Bloemfontein with the kids. I’ve been overseas a long while now.

“I know our country has its problems, but we are fortunate with what we have. I’m just enjoying SA at the moment.”

He has also been around long enough to know that his time with the Boks won’t be plain sailing.

“I’ve had my ups and downs‚” he said. “There will be screw-ups but that is part of the game and it builds character.”

The 32-year-old was left enthused by the Bok performance against the Wallabies.

“We are a bunch of different guys being thrown together‚” he said. “That was a good win. We made mistakes and there will be people who will say we were lucky, but this is Test rugby and we won. That is what matters.

“There are 13 guys in New Zealand and we still beat Australia.

“Two years ago who would have thought we’d beat Australia? I was sitting overseas and I wouldn’t have said this.

“It is just unbelievable what Rassie and SA Rugby did.”


Listen to the latest episode of the SportsLIVE PODCAST