Heyneke excited about ‘refreshed’ Morne
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has enough superstition in him to be nervous about jinxing a player by being too lavish with his expectation, but he admits that there is a lot of excitement in his anticipation of Morne Steyn’s performance against Argentina on Saturday.
The Bok flyhalf was pilloried by the critics after the England series, particularly for his performance in the last drawn test match in Port Elizabeth, where the goalkicking failures he suffered earlier on in the series appeared to start impacting on his allround confidence. Meyer didn’t pull any punches at the post-match press conference at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, and left little doubt that he felt Steyn needed to pull up his socks if he wanted to continue playing for the Boks.
However, in spite of the speculation that Steyn might be dropped, the Bok coach opted to continue with Steyn for the two test matches against the Pumas that will kick off the South African campaign in The Castle Rugby Championship.
“I don’t want to put a spell on the player but I must say I am really looking forward to seeing Morne play on Saturday, I just have a strong feeling that he is going to do really well,” said Meyer.
“People mustn’t forget that Morne had played a lot of rugby before the series against England, and sometimes non-stop rugby can just get on top of you. He is one of the players who has been involved for almost 80 minutes of every game for nearly three years. Sooner or later that was going to catch up with him and in June he had played non-stop Super Rugby for several weeks without a break.
“But because the Bulls got knocked out of the competition early, Morne has had a break now and I sense that it has helped him. He seems refreshed and I think we will see the difference on Saturday. He has gone well in training this week.”
Meyer says that Steyn knows where he stands and what he has to do if he wants to continue being the Bok pivot.
“Morne understands that when you play flyhalf for the Boks there is expectation and there is pressure, and he knows that when you don’t perform to the expectation there is criticism. I don’t know any player who can take criticism better than Morne can. But I think the criticism will motivate him to produce good rugby going forward and I have a lot of confidence in him.”
The man who stands alongside Steyn in the all-important decision making axis at No 10/No 12, namesake Frans Steyn, backs up Meyer’s confidence.
“I don’t think Morne has been playing that badly and I think people just need to understand that it is hard to get used to playing in a new team when a lot of really top players have left or retired,” said the centre.
“I thought Morne did what he had to do against England, but if he struggled a bit with the Bulls it was because they are a new team that is rebuilding. That is going to take a while, it doesn’t just happen in one year, and I think Morne has done well considering the changes that have happened at the Bulls.
“He is a player who has performed well over a long period and everybody knows what he is capable of doing. There is no reason why he can’t return to his best match-winning form.”