Steyn has inside track over Goosen
The clamour for the prodigiously talented Johan Goosen to be named as the Springboks’ test flyhalf is growing, but South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said that, for the time being at least, Morne Steyn still has the inside track for the number 10 test jersey.
Steyn enjoyed a meteoric start to his test career, playing a major role in the series win over the British and Irish Lions in 2009 while he won his first three tests against the All Blacks in the same year, including scoring all of his team’s points in a 31-19 victory over New Zealand in Durban.
The 28-year-old Bulls pivot has scored a total of 483 points in his 40 tests but he has come in for increasing criticism, with some pundits believing that Steyn is stifling the Springbok backline with his seemingly conservative approach.
Steyn also has to deal with the 20-year-old Goosen breathing down his neck after Goosen showed a few impressive touches when making his test debut last weekend off the bench against Australia.
However, Meyer is backing Steyn and his style of play to come good for South Africa.
“I’m a big believer in a guy sticking to his strengths, and I think Morne is a great player in his own right. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, so I don’t think that he needs to change the way he plays. It’s more about the outside backs who must use their opportunities,” Meyer said.
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Meyer explained that having two slightly different players vying for the flyhalf position could only benefit the Springboks in the long run.
“It’s great to have two slightly different types of 10s, because then you can play two different types of games. Morne has done well for the Boks and we have won a lot of games with him at 10. So I can’t see why he must change. He has played a lot of rugby and probably needs a break, but he is getting back to his best form. It’s great to have competition in a position,” he said.
However, Meyer, despite his admirable defence of Steyn, is clearly a fan of Cheetahs flyhalf Goosen.
“He is a quality player and reminds me a lot of the great 10s at that same age. He is the whole package. He’s mentally tough, has a great kicking game and has a lot of speed.
"And he is actually probably too physical. Going forward, you need two great players in this position to win the World Cup, and while this is a tough year, there are a lot of youngsters coming through that will help us with our depth. He will definitely put pressure on Morne going forward,” Meyer enthused.
It must be remembered that Goosen has played precious little rugby recently after suffering a serious shoulder injury during his team’s Super Rugby campaign.
He played just 50 minutes of Currie Cup rugby after making his return before earning his South Africa call-up, and he has played 10 minutes in the green and gold.
Sixty minutes of rugby means that Goosen probably lacks some match-fitness and it would have been unwise to have named him in the run-on XV for Saturday’s test against New Zealand.
He will almost certainly have his chance off the bench but Meyer is loath to push Goosen too quickly.
“I would love to give him a break, but it is not always in my hands. You shouldn’t push a guy like Goosen too early. I think, already coming off the bench in an away game against Australia, he did well. To play him against New Zealand in New Zealand, he hasn’t even played a test match in South Africa, so it is a huge ask,” he said.