Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Springbok discard Morne Steyn will continue to rack up the records on Saturday when he equals the Vodacom Bulls’ appearance record in Vodacom Super Rugby with his 116th game for the franchise.
According to the supersport website
, the record – jointly held by Bok stalwarts Danie Rossouw, who now plays for Toulon and Bulls forwards coach Victor Matfield – is likely to be surpassed in two weeks time after the Bulls’ bye next week, with Steyn holding a host of other records both at Super Rugby, Springbok and international level as well.
The form he finds himself in of late is a far cry from the dip he caught last year which cost him his place in the Springbok team, which was mainly brought on by overplaying him through the last five seasons.
But after a shaky start, Steyn steadied himself with good place-kicking and his game has excelled from there.
The confidence and tactical nuance displayed in both the Kings and Waratahs victories have underlined his worth to any team, despite those who continue to harp on about his limitations, and it is clear the Bulls would not be at the top of the Super Rugby SA Conference right now if his boot wasn’t on song.
Steyn is currently the second highest points scorer this season, having already racked up 132 points, just seven behind the Blues’ Gareth Anscome and is also the second highest points scorer behind Dan Carter in Super Rugby history – sitting just under 100 points behind Carter in the overall points list – with a massive 1333 points to Carter’s 1432.
Steyn is the second player to go past the 1300 points mark in Super Rugby and also holds the South African records of 249 penalties, 223 conversions and the tournament record of 25 drop goals. While it is rarely mentioned, Steyn has also scored 13 tries.
The Bulls know how much they rely on Steyn’s boot, not only in a tactical sense, but also in building an innings, and it’s no wonder coach Frans Ludeke was gushing over the record when asked at the team announcement.
“It’s actually amazing, you’re not always focused on the milestones, especially in such a long season. We focus on the result and those milestones we celebrate after the game. But this is a big one for Morne. To achieve this it means you have to be playing consistently over a long time and that describes Morne well. It’s great to have him in the team,” Ludeke said.
Steyn will share Saturday’s milestone with Flip van der Merwe, who will play his 50th Super Rugby game for the Bulls – his 56th in total with six for the Cheetahs – while Francois Hougaard will get on for his 50th cap if he comes off the bench this weekend.
Ludeke is also impressed with the commitment that Hougaard has shown in fighting back from a frustrating ankle injury which sidelined him for six weeks.
“You can see in his body language, he has worked hard to come back. The injury was very frustrating for him over the past few weeks. It’s been good for him – the time off that he had. The try he scored last week was a very important one and he has worked hard to get back to where he is. Now is the time for him to build on this and we look forward to seeing his contribution this weekend.”
Steyn will head to France at the end of Super Rugby, but is likely to feature in the Springboks’ plans again this season with Elton Jantjies off form and Johan Goosen injured.
And if he is in a confident mood and kicking well, the Boks could only do well to keep him as an asset that wins games.