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'He isn't selfish in that regard': What Boks love most about Steyn

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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The Springboks have paid a fulsome tribute to veteran Frans Steyn, the longest-serving South African international whose 15th year in international rugby will this Saturday see him take a place on his country’s bench for their Autumn Nations Series match versus Scotland. It was November 2006 when the now 34-year-old made his Test debut, playing against Ireland in Dublin. 

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Now having outstripped Victor Matfield as his country’s longest-serving player in the modern era, Steyn is ready to provide backup at Murrayfield a week after he came on in early in the Springboks win over Wales and put in an excellent performance.

That was Steyn’s fifth appearance in 2021 and the 72nd in his long career. He has started just four times in his most recent 19 outings for the Springboks but coach Jacques Nienaber has hailed the role the veteran is continuing to play with the 2019 World Cup champions. “Frans is brilliant,” enthused the coach who has chosen Steyn on the bench in South Africa’s last three matches. 

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Jacques Nienaber looks ahead to the Springboks versus Scotland
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Jacques Nienaber looks ahead to the Springboks versus Scotland

“If you look at our selection policy you firstly have got to be aligned with the mindset of the Springboks and Frans is 100 per cent aligned. He played the second half against the All Blacks and then after twelve minutes he entered the field last weekend against Wales and he put a man of the match performance in. 

“Before that, he only played 186 minutes in the ten Test matches we had available. Although he knows we are giving other players opportunities, he is there fulfilling his role. It is tough. He is still unbelievable competitive so it is tough for him to sit there but he knows his role, he knows what we are trying to do as a group and he has bought into that. 

“He is not selfish in that regard. He bought into the bigger cause of the Springboks. It’s not about Frans, it is what is best for the Springboks. In this whole year he has maybe missed two or three training sessions in the beginning when we went overseas, he had a toe injury and we managed him, but other than that he has done every single minute on the training field. He is not a guy that backs off training. 

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“He is 15 years in the game and doesn’t expect special treatment. He always trains which is an awesome thing. And then he is a brilliant rugby player and experience counts for a lot as you could see on Saturday with the performance that he put in. To sum it up, great mindset buying into the team’s mentality, trains every single day and then he is a good rugby player, a brilliant rugby player.”

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