Rookies raring to go

While pundits remain sceptical about the uncapped Springbok back three’s aptitude for Test rugby Francois Steyn believes they are ready.

Coach Jake White handed Steyn, Jaco Pretorius and Bevin Fortuin their first starts at the unforgiving cauldron of Lansdowne Road this Saturday but Steyn said he was confident that they would repay his faith.

The 20-year-old Sharks player said the triumvirate were working well in combination in training.

“We’re the three new guys in the team and it just so happens that we form the back triangle, a special bond has formed between us,” he told the Cape Times.

“We’ve clicked nicely and there’s obviously a lot of excitement between us.”

Talk this week has been that Ireland flyhalf Ronan O’Gara will look to test the trio with a series of up-and-unders, a tactic Steyn said they were prepared for.

“We’re expecting the Irish to kick quite a number of balls on to us, but we’ve been communicating well in training. I’m confident that we’ll help each other out and handle ourselves in defence.”

The trio’s provincial coaches encourage them to assess the game situation and don’t quell their attacking instinct. And while Steyn acknowledged the merits of sticking to a structured game plan, he was adamant that he wouldn’t cast aside his penchant for attack.

“While you always try to stick to the game plan, it’s important that you’re also able to think on your feet and express yourself,” said Steyn.

“I want to go out there and do what works for me and play the kind of game that I’m used to.”

White lauded the “new energy” the uncapped players have brought to the side and while he conceded that he was unsure of what to expect from them he was excited by the prospect of seeing the attack-minded players operate together.

“A lot of these guys have been involved in the Sevens game, so their counter-attacking and creative abilities are good. And Bevin and Francois are also very competent kickers of the rugby ball.”

The Jean de Villiers/Bryan Habana midfield pairing also came into question.

“It’ll be exciting to see Bryan next to Jean de Villiers. I think it’s important to have many players able to play in different positions going to the World Cup,” White said when asked about the thinking behind selecting Habana at outside centre, a position he has not played in since 2004.

When probed about whether it was possible that the duo could be a centre option for the World Cup, White was non-committal.

“We won the Tri-Nations with De Wet Barry and Marius Joubert; last year we had Jean and Jaque Fourie; maybe we’ll have Jean and Bryan at the World Cup. Who knows?”

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