Steyn back in Bok plans
Cape Town – South Africa’s hopes of a successful Grand Slam tour and retaining the World Cup has received a major boost with the news that the air has been cleared with brilliant utility back Frans Steyn.
Steyn last month reportedly lashed out at Springbok coach Peter de Villiers in an interview with French newspaper Midi Olympique, accusing him of being “disrespectful” to him and French club Racing Metro after a scheduled meeting in Paris did not take place.
De Villiers and South African Rugby Union (SARU) national teams manager Andy Marinos were due to meet with Steyn and Racing Metro.
“I don't see why I would respect people who don't respect me, who don't respect my club. I've got this umpteenth meeting cancelled as proof. I've taken note of that and so expect nothing more from the Springboks,” Steyn had reportedly said.
SARU’s response was that there had been correspondence with Racing Metro regarding the postponement of the meeting, but that it was not acknowledged.
Steyn’s immediate Bok future and participation in next year’s World Cup in New Zealand was hanging in the balance.
However, Sport24 can reveal that Marinos travelled to Britain and Europe last week to meet overseas-based Springboks and their clubs, and the outcome was positive with regards to Steyn.
“It was a visit that had been rescheduled from September to meet the clubs and the players to make sure that the channels of communication are properly open and they are clear of our intentions,” said Marinos.
“Obviously no-one is guaranteed selection, but the positive to come out of it was that the players are committed to playing for the Springboks and that we have an understanding with the clubs on the operation of the release periods.”
South Africa’s first Test on tour against Ireland on November 6, as well as the one against the Barbarians with which they finish the tour at Twickenham, fall outside the Test window period of the International Rugby Board. The clubs therefore have no obligation with regards to releasing their players for those games.
Marinos did not want to say which clubs were visited, but Sport24 understands that the overseas-based Boks in South Africa’s plan s are Steyn, Ulster duo Ruan Pienaar and BJ Botha, and Bath flyhalf Butch James.
However, James is still struggling with a shoulder injury and it’s unlikely that he’ll be fit to play for the Boks next month.
The Bok selectors also announced a preliminary training squad of 39 players at the weekend, but the squad did not include overseas-based Boks.
A touring squad will be announced after the Currie Cup final on October 30. It should become clearer then exactly how De Villiers intends using overseas-based players.