Steyn walk-out: Financial stand-off?
OPINION: Jan de Koning looks into the underlying issues that caused World Cup winner Frans Steyn's gladiatorial walk-out on the Springbok team.
Frans Steyn and the South African Rugby Union have thrown a veil of secrecy over the subject, but money might be at the centre of the World Cup winner's gladiatorial walk-out on the Springbok team.
In a carefully worded statement SARU said Steyn was released from the Bok squad "at his own request".
And while neither Steyn, nor SARU would divulge any reasons - in fact Steyn asked for privacy at this time, according to the statement - rugby365 is aware that there have been ongoing discussions between the player and SARU over his contract.
These negotiations have been of a very acrimonious nature and reportedly relate to promises made by SARU when the utility back returned to South Africa from France.
While the media release issued late on Tuesday dropped subtle hints, it stops short of confirming that the contractual stand-off is indeed at the centre of the controversy.
According to the statement Steyn said: "The environment in the Springbok squad is fantastic and I would like to state categorically that my relationship with Heyneke Meyer, the rest of the management and my teammates is very good."
That can only mean one thing, his recent discussions with SARU did not go according to plan and may well have added fuel to the fire.
Other hints in the media release that suggest the problem relates to his 'discussions' with SARU can be found in this paragraph: "Steyn - who is expected to take up a contract in Japan at the end of Super Rugby Series - said that he wished for time to reflect on his Springbok future. He indicated he would be available for the Sharks once the June internationals are completed."
SARU Chief Executive Jurie Roux also said that he spoke to Steyn "at length".
Making it clear that Steyn has NOT retired from international rugby, Roux said the player asked for some time "to consider his international playing future".
Whatever happened between Steyn and SARU, a player walking out on the Bok team suggests the underlying issue may have been a boil waiting to burst.
By Jan de Koning