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'Amazing' Springboks bench pick has left Lions open to '09 repeat

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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It’s the question that will start to enter thoughts if the Springboks are neck and neck coming down the finishing straight this Saturday in their latest Test series decider versus the Lions: Will veteran Morne Steyn be summoned from the bench again in the hope that he can reprise his magical series-clinching moment from 2009?

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With the side’s deadlocked at 25-all and the clocking ticking over the 80-minute mark in Pretoria, replacement out-half Steyn stepped forward in just his second Test appearance to fire over a monster kick from 50 metres out to grab the win that sealed the Test series twelve years ago with a match to spare. 

The Springboks match-winner was just 14 days shy of his 25th birthday when he landed that memorable three points and he has now been included on the bench at the age of 37 with South Africa looking to clinch another Test series victory over the touring Lions, this time as back-up to Handre Pollard whose imagination was captured by that drama of 2009.

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When he returned from France last year after six-and-a-half seasons at Stade Francais, Steyn’s idea was that it would be a bit of fun to round off his club career back at home with the Bulls. Having earned the last of his 66 Test caps in 2016 versus the All Blacks, it was unimaginable that he could aspire to a Springboks recall – yet here is, lying in wait on the Test team bench for the first time in five years.  

It’s an inclusion that has greatly enthused Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi. “He [Steyn] has been amazing. His energy and how much he loves rugby feels the same as when I first started in 2013 and he is still the same guy.

“He is still hungry and he has been sharing a lot and preparing the guys who are playing and now he is finally getting his opportunity and I feel excited for him and it will be key for us. A calming influence, a cool head, he has played big games and we need that. You can’t buy experience. His wisdom will be of huge value in this Test.”

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Springboks boss Jacques Nienaber had no issue turning back the clock with this weekend’s selection of Steyn as his team’s No22. “I am delighted for Morne – he is a world-class player and his work ethic and positive attitude on and off the field since joining the team in Bloemfontein (at a training camp) has been impressive. He can also perform under extreme pressure and that skill will be invaluable in such a vital Test.”

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'Amazing' Springboks bench pick has left Lions open to '09 repeat

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