Steyn's 'Bok Saga' must end
Francois Steyn (Gallo Images)
Pretoria – “It cannot continue like this.”
The Frans Steyn saga has to be brought to a head. It is only creating confusing perceptions about the player’s desire to play for the Springboks and is also putting the possible use of other South Africans playing overseas in jeopardy.
That was the view of Springbok coach Peter de Villiers when he heard that Steyn could not be considered for the Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks.
Firstly because he is struggling with an injury and secondly because French club Racing Metro are not compelled to release him immediately.
Steyn’s unavailability is now official.
National teams manager Andy Marinos said on Thursday that Racing had said that Steyn is injured and will therefore only be able to train again on Wednesday.
There were also administrative procedures that had to be followed such as the formal request by SA Rugby to use the player.
That process has to be initiated 14 days in advance and Racing are therefore under no obligation to release Steyn for the Test against the All Blacks.
They won’t however be able to prevent the Boks from using Steyn in Tests against the Wallabies in Pretoria and Bloemfontein.
De Villiers admitted on Thursday that the Steyn saga is frustrating and that he would not have sent Zane Kirchner back to the Blue Bulls had he known that Steyn would not be able to play against the All Blacks.
“Things now have to be brought to a head. I want to know and see that a player wants to play for the Springboks and that his heart is in it. It does not help that there are players that will die for the team, but that others don’t feel the same way. That is not necessarily the case with Frans, but those kind of perceptions can take hold,” said De Villiers.
“It creates frustration and disrupts plans. A player’s loyalty to the Bok jersey should never be questioned.”
De Villiers said that the struggles backed up his view not to rely on overseas-based players for the Bok squad.
“We see them play on a weekly basis when they are here. I have also previously said that I believe the game in the Northern Hemisphere is played at a slower pace than in the Southern Hemisphere and that disadvantages players that have to come and play for the Boks. I still believe that is the case. And when one struggles to get hold of a player that you want, you have to wonder whether it’s worthwhile.”
This is the second time this year that South Africa have experienced problems with an international call-up. Butch James could also not play against Wales after Premier Rugby refused to release him.
Marinos said that he would now be forced to visit clubs that have players that are in De Villiers’s plans.
“I will head there with the Bok plans for the next 12 months and explain when and where we will need the players. We’ll need mutual co-operation to get the desired results,” he said.