'I'll never say no to the Springboks, as long as they want to pick me I will be available'
South Africa hero Morne Steyn admits he had previously written off his Test career before stepping off the bench to snatch a dramatic series victory over the British and Irish Lions for the second time.
Veteran fly-half Steyn was brought back for his first national team appearance in almost five years and celebrated the occasion by condemning Warren Gatland’s Lions to an agonising 19-16 defeat and a 2-1 tour loss.
The 37-year-old, who settled the 2009 series in the Springboks’ favour with a crucial late penalty, replicated that achievement on Saturday evening with less than two minutes remaining at Cape Town Stadium.
“For a kicker, it’s special occasions like that that you put all the hard work in during your whole career for,” he said.
“You always dream of that one kick to win a series or a championship. Luckily it paid off today.
“I came back after six years in France and I didn’t expect (to be) playing for the Springboks again, I thought it was all over.
“But it all went well at the Bulls and I had the opportunity to play again.
“At this moment, I am just taking it year by year as life goes on. I will never say no to the Springboks, so as long as they want to pick me I will always be available.
“I am just enjoying the moment now and enjoying every moment in the green and gold.”
The Lions, reeling from last weekend’s crushing 27-9 loss, were by far the better team in the opening period but their dominance only yielded a narrow 10-6 half-time advantage.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 7, 2021
South Africa rallied after the restart and, thanks in part to Cheslin Kolbe’s try, were level in a topsy-turvy encounter at 16-16 with the clocking ticking down.
Steyn had replaced the uncharacteristically wayward Handre Pollard with 16 minutes remaining and calmly produced the series-deciding moment with the second of his two penalties.
Comparing the vital kick to the one he nailed in Pretoria 12 years ago, he said: “It’s a bit long to remember what exactly happened in 2009 but it was almost exactly the same situation.
“We were also tied up and had a final kick to win the game – that one was 54 metres and this one today was about 25 metres, so it was a bit better for the old legs.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 8, 2021
He more than justified that selection, with Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber admitting he was too nervous to watch a “fairytale” ending.
“I’ll be honest, on Morne’s kick I was sitting with my head between my legs, so didn’t see the kick, I just listened,” said Nienaber.
“I didn’t see it but I am happy for him in terms of having that opportunity and it’s almost like a fairytale. He did it 12 years ago and today again. Hats off to him.
“On Wednesday it was a discussion between the two (Steyn and Jantjies), we could have gone either way and we felt experience in this particular environment was the key.”
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