Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Steyn cast into wilderness?
Johannesburg - Springbok Frans Steyn may find himself in the wilderness in future as a result of his current club-v-country row about his availability for the World Champions.
Steyn was called up to the Springbok squad last weekend but reported a quad injury and was to undergo a scan on Tuesday. By Thursday afternoon the Bok management had lost their patience as they still waited for the results of the scan and withdrew Steyn from their plans to face New Zealand next week.
However, the Boks have now complained to the International Rugby Board to take the matter further, as there is a belief that Racing Metro are deliberately taking their time to ensure Steyn stays with them and does not return to South Africa.
Bok coach Peter de Villiers, who has clashed with Steyn before, admitted on Thursday he was reaching the end of his tether on the matter, and would have to consider making a permanent decision in the near future as to the players’ availability.
“It puts you in a very difficult situation,” De Villiers said of Steyn’s unavailability, “On the one hand you want players who have a positive attitude in your team and you also know that the rugby here is a lot faster than the game in France.
“So it is better to have players from here. But then you also want players with heart and character in your team, players who are willing to die for the Springbok jersey.
“Frans is a talented player and we want him to play for us, but at some point you will have to stop and say this far and no further.
“You need to know that the player is 100 percent committed to the country and what we now need is for national teams manager Andy Marinos to have an honest talk with the club. We need everyone in one room to sort this out.”
De Villiers said that the current club v country row was precisely why he was hesitant to pick players from overseas. Butch James had to miss the Test against Wales because it fell outside the regulated IRB Summer window of Tests, even though James was desperate to play.
De Villiers and Steyn clashed before that precise Test, with rumours abounding that Steyn said he did not want to play for De Villiers. A discussion took place in Cape Town, whereafter Steyn was chosen to face Wales.
But afterwards he was dropped and has spent the last two months in limbo, De Villiers citing the difference in the pace of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere games at the time as the reason for ignoring him.
Now it seems the olive branch extended to Steyn has been trampled by his club, who have indicated he cannot train until Wednesday next week.
The Boks have erred by not requesting his release with the prescribed 14-day notice period, but Marinos indicated this rule does not apply for the Tri-Nations. De Villiers said the entire debacle gave weight to the argument to keep national players at home and not select abroad.
“We have a lot of support for Andy in this situation and we are looking at avenues to give a counter to keep them in the country. If we can find any counter to the money abroad, we need to get that right, but we will need assistance in this.”