Could Morné Steyn play a part in next year’s British & Irish Lions series?
Steyn, now 36, put in another stand-out performance for the Bulls against the Stormers in their Super Rugby Unlocked clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, leading his team to a resounding 39-6 victory before lightning brought a premature end to the match.
Often criticised as being ‘one-dimensional’ – ie: just having a kicking game – Steyn’s time at French Top 14 giants Stade Français appears to have turned him into a better all-round player.
And it’s not as if South Africa is blessed in the flyhalf department with an abundance of talent.
Handre Pollard, one of the heroes from last year’s Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok side, is currently sidelined with a serious knee injury. While he hopes to be back in action at the end of April 2021, there’s no certainty that will in fact be the case such is the complexity of recovering from such leg injuries.
Elton Jantjies is SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus’ ‘next best’, but the Lions pivot has long had his critics and is certainly not someone Warren Gatland’s side will fear lining up against.
Damian Willemse perhaps possesses more ‘X-factor’, but is woefully short of form – and confidence – at present and was outplayed head-to-head by Steyn in Pretoria this past weekend.
Steyn has played 66 Tests for the Springboks to date, the last of which came against the All Blacks in Durban in 2018.
Memorably, Steyn landed a last-minute penalty for South Africa to defeat the British & Irish Lions in the second Test at Loftus in 2009. Steyn’s kick secured a 28-25 win for the Springboks and sealed the Test series in front of his adoring home fans in Pretoria.
Next year’s British & Irish Lions series won’t have a Test in Pretoria, with the three Tests scheduled for FNB Stadium, DHL Stadium (the ‘old’ Cape Town Stadium from January 2021) and Ellis Park.
Is remains to be seen what the thinking is of Erasmus and new Springbok coach, Jacques Nienaber.