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Sun Apr 20 21:07:03 SAST 2014

Steyn set to stay in Bok squad

CRAIG RAY | 06 August, 2012 07:290 Comments
2012 SupeRugbY: The Sharks v Vodacom Bulls
Morne Steyn warms up before the Super Rugby match between the Sharks and the Bulls at Kings Park on July 06, 2012 in Durban, South Africa

SPRINGBOK coach Heyneke Meyer has defended flyhalf Morné Steyn's poor form this season, suggesting that the experienced pivot will retain his starting place for the immediate future.

On Saturday, Meyer named a 30-man squad for the first two tests of the new four-team southern hemisphere tournament called the Rugby Championship, which starts on August 18 and welcomes Argentina to the Tri-Nations of old.

There were five uncapped players in the squad - centre JJ Engelbrecht, flyhalf Elton Jantjies, prop Pat Cilliers, scrumhalf Jano Vermaak and flank Siya Kolisi.

But the most searching questions for the Bok coach are not about the uncapped players, but about some of the more experienced players in the group, with Steyn being the biggest worry.

Steyn has not enjoyed his best Super rugby campaign, while his form for the Springboks in June was erratic and even his usually high goal-kicking success rate dropped from 90% to 70%.

Elton Jantjies has been included as the other flyhalf in the 30-man squad while Pat Lambie is viewed as a fullback by the Bok coach.

"I think hard about the make-up of the squad every day but what is important in my view is that you need halfbacks who can control a game and I believe Morné has that ability," Meyer said.

"Obviously he hasn't been at his best and neither has [scrumhalf] Francois Hougaard but, saying that, I've thought really hard about the halfbacks and decided that we need continuity at this stage.

"I've always been someone who believes that you work with players and coach them - that's my job. Morné understands he hasn't been at his best but he and Francois are both quality players and they have proven themselves in the past."

Meyer also hinted that Cheetahs star Johan Goosen could be in for a call-up if he recovers from a shoulder injury.

"Patrick [Lambie] needs to improve his tactical kicking if he wants to play flyhalf and he knows that, but the same goes for Morné at the moment," Meyer said.

"Fortunately a player like Johan Goosen is going to be back in three to four weeks, which will give us more options. There are other flyhalves such as Elton Jantjies who we will consider as well.

"A guy like Peter Grant could do a job for us, but I like my back-up flyhalf to be a youngster, which is why Elton has been given the nod for now."

The coach did issue a warning to the halfbacks, and to the squad in general, that no one's places are guaranteed beyond the first two games of the tournament.

"The squad hasn't changed much from the England series, but the players know that they have to take a step up now and if they don't perform in the next two tests there are other players waiting to take their places," Meyer said.

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Steyn set to stay in Bok squad

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