South Africa

Morné up with the best in the world

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 09:48
Morne-steyn-_-cornal-hendri Jan-serfontein-_-morne-stey
Defence is a non-negotiable for us
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South African coach Heyneke Meyer dished out a swipe at the ongoing criticism of Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn.

The 55-Test veteran was a pivotal player in the Boks' 38-16 (five tries to one) demolition of Wales in Durban at the weekend, but still haven't convinced his detractors that he is the real deal.

Not only did he produce a 100 percent goal-kicking performance (five conversions and a penalty), but the 37 times he handled the ball he kicked just 10 times - with 21 passes and six runs.

The Bok coach, Meyer, pointed out that the high attrition rate among flyhalves makes Steyn an even more valuable asset to the national team.

Patrick Lambie is only expected to return in July after undergoing surgery for a pectoral muscle injury, while Marnitz Boshoff rolled his ankle at training in Cape Town recently.

Added to that Johan Goosen his  knee at the weekend and is also in doubt for the return Test against Wales in Nelspruit this coming Saturday.

When Goosen left the field in the second half in Durban, minutes after replacing Steyn, Ruan Pienaar stepped into the flyhalf spot and performed admirably.

Meyer admitted that even with his depleted resources he has "options" at No.10.

"It is a pity that Johan Goosen was injured," Meyer said, adding that Steyn remains a valuable asset to the team.

"Morné [Steyn] has always been written off here [in South Africa]," the Bok mentor said, adding: "When he didn't play [regularly for Stade Francais] in France, they [critics] said it was the end of Morné.

"We scored six tries with him at flyhalf [against the World XV] last week and this match [against Wales] we scored five tries against a world class defensive team."

The coach said Steyn "ticked all the boxes" and was "awesome" in the way he controlled the game.

"His goal-kicking was superb and I think it was a total performance by Morné.

"He is up there with the best in the world."

Describing the 29-year-old as a "true character" and a "true warrior", Meyer expressed his admiration for the manner in which Steyn continues to confound his critics.

"We were a bit under pressure, with all the flyhalves that are injured," Meyer said, adding: "Morné always plays well for the Boks and I am very proud of him."

With South Africa Under-20 captain Handré Pollard involved in the IRB Junior World Championship - where the Baby Boks will play their England counterparts in the Final in Auckland, New Zealand, on Friday - Boshoff is likely to come into the selection frame as Steyn's understudy if Goosen is ruled out.

Another player who came in for special praise from the Bok coach is Jan Serfontein, who started at centre for the first time - after getting his first nine caps off the bench.

"They [Wales] have some big ball carriers and I though Jan [Serfontein] was superb," Meyer said.

"He has never played alongside JP [Pietersen] at centre," the coach said, adding that - given the new combination - he felt the Bok defence was awesome.

"I wasn't happy about the one try [SA conceded late in the game].

"That [defence] is a non-negotiable for us.

"We could have scored two or three more tries, but I would take five tries to one in any conditions against any country.

"We said [before the game], for us to play well Jan [Serfontein] must defend well and I thought he was awesome."

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