Steyn: Boks winning club versus country battle

Mon, 03 Oct 2016 08:43

REACTION: The desire to play for his country still burns so strong for veteran flyhalf Morné Steyn that he is defying his French club's call to return to Europe.

Steyn, the star in South Africa's crucial 18-10 win over Australia in Pretoria at the weekend, admitted there is pressure on him from  Stade Français to return to Europe.

He scored all the Springboks' points - four penalties and two drop-goals - in a rare start.

The past weekend's Test was the first time in more than two years  - his previous start on the international stage having also been against the Wallabies, in Perth in September 2014.

In between the 65-Test veteran made five appearances for the Boks off the bench.

Given his performance at Loftus Versfeld this past Saturday, it is a given Bok coach Allister Coetzee would not hesitate to also start him against New Zealand in the final round of the Rugby Championship at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday - the same venue where he made his Test debut against the British and Irish Lions in June 2009.

Although it is still some way off, there is no reason why Steyn would not be in the selection frame for South Africa's year-end tour - when they will play the Barbarians, England, Italy and Wales.

He is also uncertain about his long-term future - with the ongoing club-versus-country tug-of-war.

"It's tough to tell that I'll be playing Test rugby in three to four years' time," Steyn told a media briefing in Pretoria - before the team headed to Durban for the encounter with the All Blacks.

"There's Handré Pollard still to come back and Lambie is back already.

"I still want to play [for the Boks], but you never know what the team is going to look like in the future, so I have to take it game for game and just enjoy every minute."

He admitted there is also the issue with his French club.

"My club overseas is putting pressure on me [to quit Test rugby]," Steyn said.

"They don't like me playing for the Boks, because you don't play for them [ the club] for about four months, so it's a tough decision.

"However, for me the first prize is to play for the Springboks for as long as I can and I'll decide when I'll retire later."

Steyn showed glimpses of the form that made him a cult hero, when he won the series for the Boks against the B&I Lions in his second Test appearance back in 2009.

"It's not always that easy sitting on the bench or sitting next to the field in your number ones [formal Springbok jacket and tie], not always nice," he said.

"However, for me, just to be part of this team again and to be part of the Springboks again, is still an amazing privilege and honour playing for the Boks.

"For me just to be part of the whole squad and whole set up is still an awesome feeling," ha added.

He said it felt good to be on a familiar stomping ground - where he slotted a 55-metre penalty to win the series seven years ago.

"It was a special week for me as soon as I heard I was going to start, especially at Loftus," said Steyn.

"I hadn't played at Loftus in front of this many [38,704] fans in a long while.

"The build-up and the training during the week in the lead-up to the game was awesome, so it was good to play at Loftus and to come away with a win.

"When the team has lost three games in a row, the pressure was on me to deliver. The pressure always goes to the halfbacks when the team isn't winning.

"Playing at Loftus meant that everyone expected me to have a 100% kicking record for goal because I know the ground and I've kicked lots of balls there. Luckily it paid off on Saturday.

"When we did captain's practice [last Friday], it felt like I was back at the Bulls again. I just remembered all the good memories ."

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