The 36-year-old showed a different side since returning to South Africa and being part of the Bulls’ domestic success.
CAPE TOWN – Earlier this year, towards the business end of the Currie Cup, Bulls flyhalf Morné Steyn said that he had not given up on playing for the Springboks again.
The Bulls flyhalf was quoted as saying it was not his decision to stop playing for South Africa, and his performances for Jake White’s side certainly complimented the ambitions he still harbours to get back into the international arena.
The 36-year-old showed a different side since returning to South Africa and being part of the Bulls’ domestic success. While it wouldn’t at all have been an exaggeration to judge Steyn as a kicking metronome in the past, he offered the Bulls that characteristic reliability with the boot, but he also did well to direct their attacking play and added touches (like those cross-kicks and the gaps he found a good few times), presenting a very pleasant surprise and spicing up his rugby resume.
He’s been good, really good, but can he realistically be considered an option at 10 for the Boks, who are likely to be tourists against the British & Irish Lions in July this year, and what does the current pecking order look like?
While Handré Pollard’s long-term injury may provide a bit of space for Steyn to move into, Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies is the first-choice Bok pivot in Pollard’s absence. And then there’s Curwin Bosch and Damian Willemse, two 10s who come with a question mark or two … still.
With Willemse, there is still the 10 or 15 debate, and looking at where he’s been on duty for Western Province during the Currie Cup (and where he fits into the Bok picture), it seems that 15 is where it’s at for the 23-year-old at the moment.
After struggling to direct play during Super Rugby Unlocked, the World Cup-winner shifted to fullback with Tim Swiel coming in at flyhalf. Sure, with an eye on the silverware, it was perhaps needed for the team, but if he still has any future as a general, there’s going to have to be some stability. He’s going to need time on the job to grow in the position if that’s where he’s to be used instead of hanging out at fullback when the going gets tough.
As John Dobson said last year, game management isn’t bought at Checkers, it comes with experience, and he’s not going to get that experience while window-shopping from the back. He needs to be in a position to be in the driver’s seat making those decisions.
Then there’s Bosch. If the saying ‘it’s not how you start, but how you finish’ was applicable anywhere, it’s here. The Sharks man certainly wouldn’t have wanted his performance in the Currie Cup final to be the last image of him the rugby public was left with (missing several kicks at goal after finding the black dot as if his boot came with GPS tracker building up to that game).
The Lions tour is still up in the air, and so is the vital Bok No.10 slot …