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Steyn surprised to be captain
Frans Steyn (Gallo Images)
Durban - Sharks centre Frans Steyn admits that the captain’s armband came as a surprise to him ahead of the start of the Super Rugby season this week.
The Springbok star was thrust into the hotseat last week after regular skipper Keegan Daniel was ruled out for the initial part of the campaign due to a knee injury.
With vice-captain Bismarck du Plessis still recovering from knee surgery, coach John Plumtree was prompted to turn to Steyn, who will take charge competitively for the first time against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
"It’s not something I (had) thought about too much, so it was a little bit of a shock, but I’m over it now and just trying to do my best," the 25-year-old said on Tuesday.
Steyn is playing in his first full season after returning to Durban in the middle of last year, following a three-year stint at French club Racing Metro.
"I think I’m still the same guy, although Plum (Plumtree) disagrees," he joked when asked what had changed since his spell in Europe.
"It’s difficult to say, but I’m trying to be the same and just enjoy my life here."
The Sharks' boss had no doubt he was inheriting a better player than before, one who has gone on to play over 50 times for the Springboks.
"Frans becomes the ideal candidate for the captaincy in terms of experience," Plumtree said.
"It’s an opportunity for him to grow his leadership. I’ve noticed a big difference in him in terms of his personality and character since he’s come back from France. The players have a lot of respect for him as an individual and as a player.
"He’s a very competitive person. He doesn’t like to come second in anything he does and he’s probably going to be a regular starter."
Steyn admitted that the new leadership role will bring more responsibility and he will have to "try and lead by example".
However, he insisted that he would continue to be his old aggressive self on the rugby field.
"I’m just going to continue my normal game," he said.
"Luckily for me there’s a lot of senior guys in the team, guys like Jacques Botes and Jean Deysel. Jannie (Du Plessis) is there as well and Beast (Tendai Mtawarira) has played a lot of rugby as well. So they’re helping me out a lot.
"There’s not so much for me to do on the field, maybe take some of the decisions and lead from the front. I just need to play my game."
Apart from Springboks Daniel and Bismarck, who are ruled out for six and a further 10 weeks respectively, the Sharks will also have to cope without Willem Alberts (shoulder), Butch James (knee), Tim Whitehead (hand) and Dale Chadwick (foot) for the opening few weeks.
"It’s always a hard game for the Sharks and we’ve sort of made it difficult for ourselves going there over the last few years," Steyn said of playing the Cheetahs.
"There’s sort of a mental block about playing them.
"They are known to be our bogey side, but it’s just about what we do on the day. If we play to our game plan and control our set pieces then we’ll definitely be in with a shot of winning it."