White: No Bok cotton-wool for Steyn
Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White believes World Cup-winning utility back Frans Steyn might miss out on Bok selection because of a troublesome knee.
Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White believes World Cup-winning utility back Frans Steyn might miss out on Springbok selection because of a troublesome knee.
Steyn was among 10 Sharks players who reported to a Springbok training camp in Durban earlier in the week, although he was mainly a spectator because of the problematic knee.
And White feels Steyn won't be afforded the same preferential treatment at the national team that he receives at the Sharks.
Following the three-day training camp, it was revealed by the Bok management that Steyn has been playing through the pain barrier due to a chronic knee dysfunction.
White confirmed the prognosis, adding that they have been successfully managing the problem by allowing the player to skip training sessions at the Durban-based franchise.
The Sharks boss admitted he was unsure whether Bok counterpart Heyneke Meyer and his team will have the same attitude towards the 2007 World Cup-winner.
"The thing with Francois Steyn is he needs to be managed on a Monday and a Tuesday," White said.
"I don't know if the Springboks see the fact that he sits out on those days as a fair comparison to the other players that are having to train.
"I haven't chatted to Frans in detail yet, but I think it's highly unlikely if he can't train Mondays and Tuesdays - in a short turnaround, week in and week out, for a national team - they might not see that as a reason to pick him.
"With the amount of depth they have, maybe they feel they don't need him.
"But for us he's just so important."
White said it was vital for the Sharks to wrap Steyn in cotton-wool, because he has been vital to their cause.
He also praised the attitude of the Bok back, who has been shifted around the backline through the season.
The 27-year-old has been switched between centre and flyhalf a few times after injuries to Patrick Lambie and Fred Zeilinga, but has adapted each time - with his kicking a crucial element for the Durban franchise to establish themselves on top of the Super Rugby table.
"I know him since he's 19 and he'll do whatever he thinks is important and whatever we feel the team needs," White told a media scrum in Durban.
"He's slotted in from No.12 to No.10, he plays week in and week out, he plays 80 minutes all the time.
"His state of mind is that he wants to win this competition.
"He's up for as many [games] as I need him for. He's a real competitor and very important to us."
Steyn went past the 100-point barrier for the season when he landed 16 points against the Blues last week.
It enabled the Sharks to end their overseas tour with a 29-23 victory and third triumph out of four on the road, leaving them five points clear at the summit ahead of their clash against the Stormers on Saturday.