Frans Steyn’s booming boot and ability to kick long-range goals has seen him rushed straight back into the Springbok team to play Australia at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
Jacques van der Westuyzen – IOL Sport
The Racing Metro star, who only arrived in South Africa from Paris on Sunday, will boost a Bok side that is desperate for some flair from the back.
The team have managed just five tries in four Tri-Nations games this season, and while Steyn isn’t a known try-scorer in the mould of Bryan Habana, he can certainly add an attacking spark to the back division.
But it seems his big boot is the main reason why Bok boss Peter de Villiers included him in the team on Tuesday ahead of Gio Aplon, who falls out of the squad completely.
“We have been lacking in the kicking department in the team and we all know Frans’s abilities,” said De Villiers, who just a few months ago wasn’t on speaking terms with the big fullback.
“We haven’t had someone in the team for some time now in the same calibre as Morne (Steyn) … Frans’s ability to kick well made the decision to pick him (ahead of Gio) a little easier.
“Now we know that if we want to put fresh legs on the field later on in a game, we have someone else who can handle the kicking duties.
“With there being such a big difference between how the game is played in Europe and here, we want to get Frans back up to speed as quickly as possible. He’s an excellent player, a natural athlete, and I know he’ll fit in quickly with the right guys around him.”
De Villiers, though, said he felt for Aplon as well as Juan de Jongh, who’s been relegated to the bench, with Jaque Fourie returning from suspension and being picked alongside Jean de Villiers in midfield.
“The toughest part of a coach’s job is to go to a player and tell them they’ve been dropped … more so when they’ve actually played well the previous week. But that is part of the job.
“Jaque Fourie is a world-class player and, while Juan showed signs last weekend he has greatness in him, Jaque has already achieved that … and shown he can do the job for us.
“We want to put the best team on the field, and I believe this is it.”
De Villiers has also, somewhat surprisingly, opted to again start with Flip van der Merwe in the second row, even though Danie Rossouw was the form lock earlier this year and is now 100% fit.
“Flip got one chance (last weekend) and he took it with both hands. With Juan (Smith) back in the team, we don’t need another ball-carrier (Rossouw), we need a hard nut like Bakkies (Botha),” explained De Villiers.
Smith, who is seemingly still nursing a stomach strain, was on Tuesday included in the starting team and De Villiers said they would give one of last weekend’s big stars a few more days to prove his fitness.
“After a big game like that, everyone has niggles, but if you don’t consider them, you won’t be able to pick a team.
“Juan, though, is the unlucky guy who’s picked up more than just a niggle, but he’s such a special player that we’ll grant him the time he needs to show he’s ready.”
The only other newcomer this week is Sharks No 8 Ryan Kankowski, who again fills a spot on the bench.
“The Aussies play a quicker game than the All Blacks, so we’ve opted for more speed in the team. Ryan is also coming off a good game for the Sharks, so we believe he’ll do the job for us.”