Morné Steyn. Picture: SAMUEL SHIVAMBU/BACKPAGEPIX
Morné Steyn. Picture: SAMUEL SHIVAMBU/BACKPAGEPIX

SA’s desire to have  a flyhalf who can settle the nerves and eke out a win in tight situations led to a recall for Morné Steyn for the British & Irish Lions series starting in July.

Steyn won the last of his 66 Test caps in 2016 and, though he will turn 37 before the start of the Lions series, has been rewarded for gritty displays for the Bulls.

It was Steyn’s steady boot that won the Springboks the 2009 Lions series and head coach Jacques Nienaber hopes he will bring that same calming influence.

“The big thing we were looking for there was consistency,” Nienaber told reporters, adding that Steyn had been the most consistent flyhalf since domestic rugby returned in November after being interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Steyn beat Sharks No 10 Curwin Bosch for a place in the 46-man squad that will also play two Tests against Georgia before the Lions series.

While Nienaber acknowledged the talent of Bosch, his selection of a more steady boot in Steyn perhaps reveals how the Boks will play. “[Bosch’s] X-factor is phenomenal and he can win games for you out of nothing. He’s 23 and as he grows a little bit older and plays more big games, Currie Cup finals like he did this year, he will probably get more consistent.

“I can see him playing a lot of Test matches for SA.”

World Cup winner Handré Pollard is likely to be the starting flyhalf for the Boks though he has spent most of the 2020/2021 French Top 14 season on the sidelines at Montpellier with a serious knee injury that will always cast doubt on his fitness.

The more flamboyant Elton Jantjies is the other No 10 in the squad, though his ball-in-hand style does not suit the Boks’ forward-dominated game and he is likely to be used as an impact player off the bench if they choose to switch their game plan.

The Boks will play warm-up Tests against Georgia on July 2 and 9, before they face the Lions on three consecutive Saturdays from July 24. 

Reuters

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