34-year-old Frans Steyn replaced the injured Damian Willemse in the first half of the Springboks’ Test against Wales and proceeded to deliver an extraordinary performance.
DURBAN – In Frans Steyn’s man of the match interview after the Springboks’ thrilling 23-18 victory over Wales on Saturday, he excitedly proclaimed that he had never lost at the Millennium Stadium — the Boks’ hoodoo ground since 2014 — but he could have modestly added that he has never lost at all to Wales in his glittering career.
The 34-year-old replaced the injured Damian Willemse midway through the first half and proceeded to deliver an extraordinary performance, be it powerful surges with the ball in hand, thunderous touch finders, rock-solid kick receipts or, indeed, a monster penalty goal from inside his half that reprised the “Jet Boots” nickname he was given by New Zealanders when he kicked the Boks to a Tri-Nations win in Hamilton in 2009.
When the Boks arrived at the rain-drenched stadium, he knew that while most of his teammates did not know what it is like to win at the 80,000-seater fortress that sits majestically in the heart of the Cardiff CBD, surrounded by pubs bursting with passionate Welsh supporters, he had won in four visits between 2007 and 2010.
But he was also on the winning side when the Boks beat the Welsh in Pretoria in 2008; then in a World Cup quarter-final in New Zealand in 2011, and in the semi-final of the last World Cup in Japan two years ago.
He now has a 100 percent, eight-out-of-eight record against Wales and he was the ideal man to give the Boks the belief that they could turn the tide in their most recent encounter, one which increasingly filled Bok fans with dread as Dan Biggar regularly converted into points an endless stream of penalties that went Wale’s way thanks to whistle-obsessed Kiwi referee Paul Williams, a former player who really should have a better feel for the game.
“The weather was terrible but I love playing here!” a beaming Steyn said after receiving his award. “I’ve never lost in this stadium and it is one of my favourite places to play because of the noise the fans make. When they sing ‘Land of my Fathers’ it is incredible.’”
Steyn later said that on arrival at the stadium he had been chatting with Cobus Reinach about why he loves the Millennium Stadium, and maybe that helped inspire Reinach to play a very important cameo when he came on for struggling Herschel Jantjies.
💪 Frans Steyn rolled back the years to deliver a masterclass in Cardiff
🗣️ “I think I realise now that any match could be my last Test”
➡️ More here: https://t.co/DkaYV1kB5o#StrongerTogether #StrongerForever #WALvRSA pic.twitter.com/UYaicqGYzY
— Springboks (@Springboks) November 7, 2021
“I told Cobus that this is a really special place. The atmosphere and the people here are something that I will always remember. It’s really one of the best places that I have played.”
Steyn added that the reason he plays like a man possessed – he was also in sensational form when the Boks beat the All Blacks in their match prior to this one – is because he knows his time with the Boks is running out.
“I think I have realised that when I come on, it could be the last time in the green and gold,” Steyn said. “That’s just it. I just want to enjoy it and make full use of that opportunity.
“I don’t have any regrets. There were a lot of screw-ups in my younger days but rugby is a weird sport. Next week it can go another way, I could have a shocker. That’s the way rugby works. You can’t always be on a high, but as I said, this could be the last game I play for the Springboks, you never know. There is a lot of talent coming through, so I am just enjoying my time.”