Steyn to reach magical 100 caps
Springbok incumbent Morne Steyn will reach a magical milestone this Saturday when he runs out for his 100th match in a Vodacom Bulls jersey.
From rising from the shadow behind Derick Hougaard in his early days to a magical career and top points scorer in the Vodacom Super Rugby series in 2009 and 2010, Steyn will play a pivotal part in his team’s hopes of clinching a third consecutive victory on tour when they face the Highlanders in Dunedin.
And never before has there been such a crucial season for Steyn to perform in, especially with the number of up and coming pivots snapping at his heels.
True to his character though, he hasn’t shied away from the criticism, he hasn’t hidden behind his own faults, but rather faced up to them and continued to be the points-scoring machine that has made him such a vital part of the Bulls set-up over the years.
There may be some players who stand out as the stars in any team – gamebreakers, players who draw themselves to the limelight and play flashy rugby, never subtle in their outlook.
But Steyn isn’t one of them. If the Bulls need to describe him, he’s their rock, their foundation where most of their victories come from.
Consider earlier this season where the Bulls lost two games to the Blues and the Stormers. In both of those Steyn’s kicking was off-key. In both he uncharacteristically missed kicks that he normally would have slotted with his eyes closed.
But in both, he also converted tough sideline conversions when it mattered most. The games may have been lost, but Steyn managed to secure a vital bonus point for his Bulls team.
When one looks back on it now, those two bonus points through tough kicks are the reason the Bulls are at the top of the log at the moment, nosing themselves in front of the Stormers, who have won one more game.
While some were worried, and others continued to talk about his demise, the Bulls rock kept up his two hours a day extra on the field under the watchful eye of his kicking coach Vlok Cilliers.
Steyn continued to work at it, and as the Bulls left on tour, he was back in the driving seat, ensuring his team’s points kept ticking over with his boot.
There are many who aren’t the biggest Steyn fans outside Pretoria, but with his ice cool nerve he won the series against the British and Irish Lions in only his second appearance off the bench and has since continued to rack up records for the Boks.
Steyn this year passed the magical 1 000 points mark in Super Rugby, the first local player to do so, and is fast closing in on Dan Carter’s record in the competition.
He is also the fastest player to 400 test points for the Springboks, and continues to provide a dead shot basis for his Bulls team to play off.
Steyn’s defence has probably been his biggest drawback over the years, while he does have a tendency to sit back in the pocket at times. This season the Bulls backline has flourished under his command and continue to set the trend for attacking play among local sides.
There is a lot of water to flow under the bridge still before Steyn gets to don the Green and Gold for Heyneke Meyer against England.
But on Saturday it will be a pure milestone for him to enjoy. The same shy player who used to sit in the shadows of Derick Hougaard has certainly become one of the best in world rugby.
A 100 Super Rugby caps is just another milestone for “Vollie” as he prepares to take his Bulls team closer to the playoffs.