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Random toughts of a Sports Lover…

The Steyn debate – By Bloues


I hope my Bok jersey is still where I left it...

I seems the hot topic at the moment is Dawie Theron’s announcement of his U20 Bok squad and the presence of a certain J Goosen in that squad. The tournament will run at the same time as the June tests between the Boks and England, so Goosen is effectively ruled out of this series.

Many people have cried in outrage over this because it probably means that Morne Steyn will again be given the Bok number ten jersey. As if this will mean the end of the world.

At present, Morne has had his fair share of hard luck when it came to aiming for posts. The match against the Blues was where this has done most damage because the kicks he missed at Newlands wasn’t what you would call sitters and the Bulls won comfortably against the Lions. But the fact is that, while in the past I used the time it took him to kick at goal to fetch myself another beer, I now feel that I have to keep watch because no kick of his is a foregone conclusion anymore.

But, he has shown for the past three years that he is a reliable player and he still slotted the most important kick of the Blues match. He also regularly found his chasers with his Gary Owen’s, he got good distance on his line kicks and he even created two tries from cross kicks.

So, even if according to some he is nothing else, you cant detract from the fact that he is a solid player. To me, selecting Steyn was a no brainer  from the start. I feel Steyn has made the group of players that the Boks will be selected around. This group includes The Beast, Bismarc du Plessis, Andries Bekker, Schalk Burger, Heinrich Brussouw, Pierre Spies, Francois Hougard, Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh, Francois Steyn, Patrick Lambie and Bryan Habana. These are players that you know will do the job when they run out for their country and it will take a huge effort from any of the young players if they want to lift these guys out of the Bok team.

But how long can you ignore an obviously talented youngster who keeps putting his hand up for a national call up? Must Meyer’s hand be forced like Peter de Villiers’ by injuries and a lack of performance or must he just elevate the incumbent to Bok status and see what happens?

My opinion is a bit of both. The English team that will visit our shores in June will be a settled outfit that had a decent Six Nations behind them and they will not have a new coach as we expected them to have at the beginning of the season. They wont be easy opponents and, if we want to be taken seriously by our Southern Hemisphere rivals, we MUST win this series. A home loss should not be tolerated.

The best way to achieve this with a new coach is with the core of the team staying the same. Test rugby challenges a player in a lot of ways that not even Super Rugby does. It is an environment where only the best survives and even the most talented youngsters have fell pray to the pitfalls of being exposed to this environment too quickly. It is not the place to see whether a player has the composure and staying power required or not.

Goosen’s talent and ability is obvious, but he is a talented young player playing in a position we already have an able regular. When Steyn runs on to the field against the English, we can bank on him to do the job adequately. If he doesn’t do the job, Lambie will slot in and chances are he’ll do a fine job. The only harm an out of sorts Morney Steyn can do is his Bok career suffering a setback and SA Rugby loosing a servant who has already helped us win a Tri Nations and a Lions tour.

If Goosen has a horrible start to his test career, the consequences can be a lot worse. It could potentially post pone the rest of his international career by another two years and then he may not be the same player he is today. At the moment Goosen is no different than Butch James, Derick Hougard, Brent Russel and many other players who seemingly had the world at their feet, but never really made it at the world stage due to setbacks early in their careers.

Goosen has the potential to be the best there ever was, but right now he must be the best Free State and the Baby Boks ever had. We mustn’t forget how important winning the U20 World Championship on home soil is. How many world beaters have come from a winning junior side. Think Schalk Burger, Chris Jack, Richie McCaw, Fourie du Preez.

The importance of winning the lesser finals is whole different conversation, but it’s one that Meyer is familiar with. By winning the Vodacom Cup, followed by a couple of Currie Cups and ultimately the Super 14 he constructed a dynasty at the Bulls that keeps on performing. Almost every player in the current Bulls squad has at some stage in their careers played in and most of the have won a Vodacom Cup, U19, U20 or Super Rugby final.

I think Goosen wil definitely gain a lot more experience in the U20 World cup than he would get at the Boks against England, especially if the Baby Boks manages to go all the way. After that, he’ll have the rest of the Super 15 and the Currie Cup show his aptitude and win selection at the EOYT. There he’ll get the game time needed to fight Steyn, Lambie or whoever for the Bok number ten jersey.

But, whoever gets to wear the jersey will do the job. That, we can be assured of.




Filed under: Rugby, Sports, Superrugby, , ,

One Response

  1. Roly says:

    Level heads and a coach with a plan is what I see. Blood the youngsters as u20 Boks to give them another step up. I think he is wise

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