Cape Town – Heartened by their convincing, timely victory over Argentina in Buenos Aires, the Springboks should get a further tonic this week with the return to pre-World Cup camp of seasoned utility back Frans Steyn.
Although no official word had been forthcoming from the Bok management at the time of writing, Sport24 understands that Steyn will be among the troops when the current squad re-assembles in Durban on Thursday after a few days off.
He had been in their training midst at the start of this month when the news filtered through that his brother Wimpie had reportedly committed suicide on the family farm near Bethlehem, and was immediately released from duty for an indefinite period.
At the time, the Sharks favourite was in rehabilitation from a pectoral muscle injury so the first task once he returns will presumably be to gauge his state of well-being both physically and mentally after the bereavement.
The 28-year-old prior winner of the World Cup in 2007 played the last of his 53 Tests for the Boks against New Zealand in Dunedin in 2012, and has since had a much-publicised contractual dispute with SARU.
But that has been put to bed and assuming he will be battle-ready in time, Steyn remains in contention for a place among the 31-strong RWC 2015 squad to be announced on August 28.
If anything, the mercurial player’s value to a potential Bok match-day squad during the World Cup may be raised now, considering the possibility that in-form Pat Lambie has nosed ahead of Handre Pollard in the race to be deemed first-choice flyhalf in coach Heyneke Meyer’s mind.
When he was curtailed to the bench by the more youthful Pollard earlier in the season, Lambie was an attractive substitute given his ability to cover other positions like fullback and inside centre as well.
Steyn is even more versatile, of course, so he could well become an important “supersub” – unless he vaults his way into the XV anyway – at the tournament if Lambie finds himself first-choice at No 10.
The robust specimen has represented the Boks at all of flyhalf, centre (both berths), wing and fullback, and is also a perfect player to summon if a ding-dong encounter may be settled by a long-range penalty goal – he kicks off the tee from a longer distance than any other current squad member and his dropped-goal range isn’t shabby either.
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