Frans Steyn

Springboks stalwart Frans Steyn. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Mallett: Steyn at flyhalf is not a โ€˜catastropheโ€™ for Boks

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett believes Frans Steyn is more than capable of doing a decent job at flyhalf against Argentina.

Frans Steyn

Springboks stalwart Frans Steyn. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Besides winning two World Cups, Frans Steyn was also part of the Springbok squad during the series triumphs against the British & Irish Lions in 2009 and 2021. The 35-year-old has 77 Test caps to his name, and is expected to remain part of the group that travels to the World Cup in France next year.

The Boks will head into this Saturday’s final Rugby Championship Test against the Pumas in Durban with a strong chance of claiming a memorable title triumph, and in this context, Frans Steyn’s place in the side is looking more important than ever.

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It was confirmed on Monday that Damian Willemse is set to be unavailable this week after suffering a heavy knock to the head last Saturday, and Steyn has now been named to start his first international match at flyhalf since 2008.

Writing in his column for Sport24, Nick Mallett said the Boks had done the right thing by turning to the experience of Steyn.

“In terms of selection, the obvious talking point is Frans Steyn playing at flyhalf, but I don’t think it’s going to be a catastrophe. New Zealand won the world cup in 2011 and I think they had their fourth choice flyhalf on the field for that final game where they beat the French in the final. What is particularly important is that the flyhalf understands what the gameplan is, and he just does what Handre Pollard, Damian Willemse or perhaps what Elton Jantjies would have done in that position.

“You need to replicate what your whole team needs you to do in that position, and I have full confidence that Steyn can do that. He has the goal kicking skills as well, and I don’t feel thatโ€™s a weakness at all.

“The fact that there is no natural flyhalf back-up in the squad, however, absolutely is a concern. There is no doubt that you’d want to sit with two players who are comfortable in playing that position. I know Frans has been playing for the Cheetahs in the flyhalf position as well as inside centre, so it’s not a completely difficult situation for him, and I have seen Faf (De Klerk) play a couple of games for the Lions where he was pushed into 10 because of something happening to Elton and they didn’t have someone on the bench.

“It’s unfortunate, but you can’t take five flyhalves to your camp and spend time with all of them. You only take two fly halves to the World Cup, and another guy who can play flyhalf if needs be. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Elton Jantjies, but perhaps the two that they were looking at were Pollard and (Johan) Goosen with someone like Damian Willemse who can fill in there. That, to me, looks like what they wanted to take through to the World Cup, and now they have none of those players available.ย 

“The Boks could not anticipate that Pollard would be ruled out, that there would be issues with Elton, or that Damian was going to have a concussion, and I don’t think over a six-match period you can predict that sort of injury problem in any one position. It would be ideal to have a proper flyhalf who could move in there, but I think this one was out of the hands of the coaching staff and they now need to back Frans to do a good job there.”

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Taking to Twitter, Rassie Erasmus highlighted how incredible was for Steyn to still be performing at the highest level, while also offering credit to Ireland counterpart Johnny Sexton.

“My opinion: Just incredible how these two top guys and players still doing the job at the highest level considering the type of players they are (physicality and smart tactics every game) Lekka! Proud,” Erasmus wrote.

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Meanwhile, in the the only other change to the Springboks’ run-on XV for this Saturday’s clash against Argentina, Pieter Steph du Toit returns to the starting lineup at flanker in place of Franco Mostert, who will provide an impact off the bench.

The notable changes amongst the replacements are the return of hooker Bongi Mbonambi, who makes a welcome return from a knee injury, and Kurt-Lee Arendse, who has completed his suspension following a dangerous tackle last month.

Mbonambi will be joined by strong reinforcements in Vincent Koch (prop) and Duane Vermeulen (No 8), who join Mostert and Kwagga Smith as the forwards on the bench.

Faf de Klerk and Arendse, meanwhile, will provide cover amongst the backs, with De Klerk earmarked as the back-up scrumhalf and flyhalf cover, while Arendse will cover fullback and wing depending on how the match unfolds.

Frans Steyn will make a rare start at flyhalf:

15 โ€“ Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) โ€“ 78 caps, 65 pts (13t)
14 โ€“ Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls) โ€“ 2 caps, 5pts (1t)
13 โ€“ Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) โ€“ 55 caps, 60 pts (12t)
12 โ€“ Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) โ€“ 65 caps, 45 pts, (9t)
11 โ€“ Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) โ€“ 32 caps, 110 pts (22t)
10 โ€“ Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs) โ€“ 77 caps, 156 pts (11t, 10c, 24p, 3d)
9 โ€“ Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks) โ€“ 9 caps, 10 pts (2t)

8 โ€“ Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) โ€“ 17 caps, 0 pts
7 โ€“ Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) โ€“ 63 caps, 15 pts (3t)
6 โ€“ Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) โ€“ 70 caps, 35 pts (7t)
5 โ€“ Lood de Jager (Wild Knights) โ€“ 63 caps, 25 pts (5t)
4 โ€“ Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks) โ€“ 105 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 โ€“ Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) โ€“ 53 caps, 5 pts (1t)
2 โ€“ Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) โ€“ 54 caps, 65 pts (13t)
1 โ€“ Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) โ€“ 66 caps, 5 pts (1t)

Replacements:

16 โ€“ Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks) โ€“ 51 caps, 55 pts (11t)
17 โ€“ Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks) โ€“ 14 caps, 0 pts
18 โ€“ Vincent Koch (Wasps) โ€“ 36 caps, 0 pts
19 โ€“ Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) โ€“ 58 caps, 10 pts (2t)
20 โ€“ Duane Vermeulen (Ulster) โ€“ 64 caps, 15 pts (3t)
21 โ€“ Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) โ€“ 26 caps, 15 pts (3t)
22 โ€“ Faf de Klerk (Yokohama Canon Eagles) โ€“ 41 caps, 25 pts (5t)
23 โ€“ Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) โ€“ 2 caps, 5 pts (1t)

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