Wellington - Losing Frans Steyn to injury was a far more detrimental blow to South Africa’s Rugby World Cup ambitions than the loss of Dan Carter may be to the All Blacks, Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said on Monday.
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“Yes I think it (the injury to Steyn) is much bigger,” said De Villiers.
“He was one of those starts to us and coming to the World Cup he came as a fullback and we were forced to use him at centre and then he just he showed us what his value is as a player and a team man.”
The French based Springbok picked up a tournament ending shoulder injury during his team’s 13-5 victory over Samoa on Friday.
Carter, widely regarded as the best player in the world, sustained a groin injury in training ahead of his team’s 79-15 demolition of Canada.
Steyn was far more physical in midfield than any of his predecessors and De Villiers hoped that he could fulfil that role for the duration of the tournament – as he did at the 2007 World Cup in France.
“We are going to miss him, definitely,” said the Springbok mentor.
Losing Steyn also means that the Springboks will no longer have a specialist long range goal kicker in their side.
De Villiers said that it could prompt the opposition to be more lax when competing for the ball at the tackle area.
“Frans Steyn is a big blow to us, but then again if the breakdown is there (in range where Steyn used to convert penalties) then they will definitely target it more, but we will just have a to see that we play a territory game.
As for Sunday’s quarter final contest, De Villiers said that the battle at the breakdown between the Springboks’ Heinrich Brussow and Wallaby fetcher David Pocock will have a big impact on the final result.
“Australia are really very good at breakdown time and that is where they play from when they get turnovers, so we will have to look after our ball carefully and try to secure and put phases together and make it difficult for them.
“We have two of the best the best players that play to the ball in world rugby on the field this weekend so it is going to be a great contest."
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