Morné: Hard work beats talent
Morné: Hard work beats talentSHARE
The rise, fall and resurgence of Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn is proof that there is no substitute for a good work ethic.
After going through a major dip in form last year, Steyn went back to what earned him a Test spot in the first place – hard graft and plenty of hours on the training pitch – which has paid off once again.
Despite being criticised throughout his career for being conservative and one-dimensional, there is no arguing with his statistics as there are few goal-kickers in world rugby that match up.
Although his consistency with the boot is what sets him apart as a player, it has not always been that way and he only started working on it once he became a professional.
Steyn announced himself on the international stage with the kick that clinched the British and Irish Lions series in 2009, and went on to claim the record for most points by a Springbok in a Test with his 31-point haul against the All Blacks in Durban, but that was all the result of six years' hard work.
"When I arrived in 2003 at the Bulls I wasn't the best kicker, I didn't even kick for the Vodacom Cup side or the U20 side. From there on I put the work in with [Bulls kicking coach] Vlok Cilliers and luckily I am where I am today.
"Coach Heyneke [Meyer] actually told me that if I want to play at a higher level I must work on my kicking game," he revealed.
Now he is about to become the first Springbok flyhalf to reach 50 Test caps, and Bok coach Meyer believes that Steyn's story proves a major point about how important attitude and application are to making it at the highest level.
"I am really happy for Morné, he epitomises what I like from a player, he has been written off so many times in his career and with all due respect to him he was not the most gifted player when I started coaching him or the most talented but he has got an unbelievable work ethic.
"When he started he didn't even kick for his high school team, it shows that it is not always the best that makes it but the guy that works the hardest," said Meyer.
Whilst Meyer's suggestion that Steyn is not as talented as some of his peers may seem quite harsh, he made it clear that he would take the Bok workhorse that kicks like a mule over a naturally gifted prima donna any day.
"Hard work always beats talent and I think he is a great example, he has won a lot of Test matches for his country and the way he came back is amazing, that is what the team stands for and I am really happy for him and hope he can play another 50 Test matches," said Meyer.
Steyn said that while his poor form last year presented a serious test of his mental strength, there is no secret to the way he has bounced back, apart from the type of hard work that saw him earn the green and gold jersey in the first place.
"Any player goes through a phase like that where things go wrong, you don't know what it is you try to find it but you don't get anything. For me I just went to the training field, worked harder, put in extra work and luckily this year it is going well again.
"I think it is a big test for any sporting person when things are not going right some people will just sit down and don't want to work, but I think some of the guys want to work harder and just want to get back to number one.
"You always want to play for the Springboks and when things are not going right or your way you think that is the end of your Springbok career, but I always had that Springbok jersey in mind as a goal," he said.
By Michael de Vries