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'Has to be called back into Springbok squad': The former Bok playmaker making a strong case for a national recall

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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With Montpellier flyhalf Handre Pollard making his comeback from an ACL injury after nearly a year on the sidelines, the Springboks have been left short on other options at No 10.

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One player putting his hand up is the man Pollard eventually took over from as South Africa’s premier playmaker, Morne Steyn.

After returning to South Africa from Europe to re-join the Bulls last year, the Springboks’ second-highest point scorer in test rugby has found himself in great form in the Rainbow Cup, piloting his side to a 43-9 romp over the Sharks on Saturday.

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Under Jake White, the Bulls have become a defensive power again, winning three from three and conceding just 34 points while every other team has conceded over 90.

Steyn, meanwhile, led his side around the park, passed crisply and masterfully kicked goals to dismantle the Sharks with seven successful attempts on goal from as many attempts, racking up a personal tally of 19 points.

The 36-year-old looked in sublime touch, so much so that some have suggested that he is playing better than when he last pulled on the Springboks jersey against the All Blacks in 2016.

His form hasn’t gone unnoticed by fans and pundits, with many calling for Steyn to play a part in the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour.

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One aspect of Steyn’s game that fans have admired in recent weeks is his ability to close out games, as he did in the second test of the 2009 Lions tour where he kicked 10 points, including the critical long-range penalty to secure the win and the series.

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Following his emphatic victory over fellow Springboks hopeful and Sharks pivot Curwin Bosch in Pretoria, The South African journalist James Richardson wrote Steyn is the “obvious choice” to wear the No 10 jersey against the Lions.

“Since returning to South African rugby, Morne Steyn has re-established himself as the pre-eminent flyhalf in the country,” Richardson wrote.

“With Handre Pollard still trying to find his feet after returning from injury, it now seems like Steyn is the obvious choice to don the Springboks number ten jersey.”

Richardson explained that while Steyn isn’t the “most exciting option”, he is capable of orchestrating proceedings with his passing and kicking game.

He added that Steyn deserves to be picked over Pollard, who has yet to prove his fitness for Montpellier, while the 66-test Bulls star is in great form.

Craig Lewis of SA Rugby Magazine, meanwhile, argued there is significant merit for Steyn’s inclusion, as a starter or otherwise, suggesting he could fill a valuable player-coach role within the squad if not needed on the field.

“Despite his age – and the preconception that he may be ‘over the hill’ – Steyn continues to play some emphatically assured rugby for the Bulls,” Lewis wrote.

“If there are any untimely injuries, the Springboks could do a whole lot worse than to have Steyn slotting into the flyhalf channel during high-pressure situations.”

Having been invited to the Springboks alignment camps, it seems Steyn is a chance at earning a recall that would bring his career full circle after he debuted against the British and Irish Lions when they last visited South Africa 12 years ago.

Former Springboks have previously made their way back into the squad under director of rugby Rassie Erasmus’ watch, with Schalk Brits earning national selection in 2018 after three seasons without a test.

Francois Steyn also found his way back into the World Cup squad as a utility back having spent a year away from the Springboks in 2018.

Steyn will have the chance to add to his case for a shock Springboks call-up this weekend when the Bulls travel to Johannesburg to take on the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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'Has to be called back into Springbok squad': The former Bok playmaker making a strong case for a national recall

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