Axing Morné is best for Boks
Axing Morné is best for BoksSHARE
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer admitted it was a difficult decision to axe match-winning flyhalf Morné Steyn, but felt it was in the interest of the team.
Twenty-year-old wünderkind Johan Goosen will start at No.10 in the Rugby Championship Test against Australia at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Meyer admitted that the temptation was there to give Steyn another run, given that it was his home ground and a venue where he has produced some of his best form.
"I always said I would do what was best for the team, and then individuals," Meyer said, adding that it was a "big call" to make ahead of a Loftus Test.
The Bok mentor praised Steyn for the professional manner in which he accepted his axing.
"Morné is a true champion, he accepted it graciously," Meyer said, adding: "He has put his body on the line for his country for the last three or four years and he won a lot of games that we could have lost if he didn't kick well.
"I just feel that it is in the best interests for Morné and the team that he doesn't play."
Steyn, who established himself as a fixture in the Bok set-up by winning the series against the British and Irish Lions and 2009 as well as the Tri-Nations that year, has suffered a serious slump in form this year.
The 41-Test veteran is the holder of several world records and Meyer is adamant he will be back to his best form in the not too distant future.
"Morné is an unbelievable character and a champion," the Bok coach said, adding: "I know he will fight back.
He is the type of guy that won't feel sorry for himself, he is a fighter."
Meyer said it is in Steyn's best interest to be axed.
"He has played a lot of rugby. He has just become a dad and there are other issues as well … he is just human. However, I am sure he will come back stronger."
Goosen, who has played only 28 minutes in a Springbok jersey, made his debut off the bench against Australia in Perth earlier this month.
The youngster's long-range kicking and ability to attack the gainline has gained him a lot of supporters in his short career.
While Meyer cautioned against expecting miracles from the young flyhalf, he said Goosen would not be forced to play a specific style.
"I think it is a misconception … every single player has Carte Blanche to play the situation," Meyer said, when asked about the perception that players are instructed to play kick-'n-chase only.
"It is just difficult when you are in New Zealand, or away from home in tough conditions.
"It is not Currie Cup rugby. With all respect, there [in Currie Cup rugby] you have more space and there are more line-breaks.
"Like I say to every single player, go out there and be yourself."
Meyer cautioned that the public should not expect too much too early from Goosen.
"I think people have to be realistic because you cannot expect a 20-year-old to come in, win the game and score five tries, although I would love that," he said.
"There is also a process for Johan, he has been involved from the outset and we had chats even when he was injured.
"But it is great as a coach to have depth at flyhalf, even though there is a long way to go before the next World Cup."
With Bok centre Frans Steyn still nursing an ankle injury, Lions rookie Jaco Taute could be moved into the starting XV at outside centre, with captain Jean de Villiers shifting back to his familiar position on the inside.
"The big question was to have two young players, especially with Frans Steyn not 100 percent fit," said the Bok mentor.
"I would have loved to have two experienced guys on both sides of the youngsters, but I have a lot of confidence in them as well."
Meyer said he would make a final call on Steyn's availability on Friday.
"It is such a crucial game and he is such an influential player," he said.
"We were positive about him before training, but as he ran he hurt it [his ankle] again."