Supporting Steyn

Frans Steyn needs to be backed. It’s a plea more than a command, and one shared by the vast majority in the South African rugby fraternity.

sar-coverHe is an exceptional talent and has proven this at Super 14 and Test level, where he shone on the biggest stage of all, the World Cup. The fact that he was 20 years old and playing in a position unfamiliar to him bears testament to what a special talent we’ve produced.

However, 2008 saw him dabble in mediocrity. There were outstanding performances, particularly in the Currie Cup, to remind his critics of his class. But there can be no denying that he regressed from the heights of 2007. Mitigating factors there are aplenty, the primary one being the failure of his coaches to settle on a set position for him.

That problem seems to be alleviated, with Sharks coach John Plumtree confirming that Steyn is set for an extended run at inside centre. Now it’s time to back the boy. That’s the rallying cry from SA Rugby magazine’s panel of experts – Alan Solomons, Murray Mexted, Eddie Jones and John Plumtree.

All believe Steyn to be a rare talent capable of dominating the game in a manner few have if he’s given the right support structures, time to settle and freedom to express himself. In the new issue of SA Rugby magazine, on sale Wednesday, they explain what’s gone wrong in the past and plot the way forward for the best young buck to emerge in the past decade.

Also in the new issue:

sar-koster– A schoolboy sensation for Bishops, Nick Koster was always destined for greatness. Expect him to live up to the hype.

– USA Eagles captain Todd Clever turned down a lucrative offer with a European club to play Super 14 rugby for the Lions. The flanker talks about that crucial decision, learning Afrikaans, his new nickname and what it’s like to live in Johannesburg.

Meyer Bosman on playing flyhalf for the Cheetahs, the team’s defensive problems, injury setbacks, and what he loves about Bloemfontein.

– Ex-flanker Derick Kuün believes 2009 will be his breakthrough season at hooker.

sar-big-joe– New Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder on why his understanding of the team’s culture offsets his lack of coaching experience, whether he’ll be speaking to Robbie Deans during the Super 14, what he will do differently from Deans, the massive loss of Dan Carter and the ELVs.

– When the Queensland Reds poached All Blacks flank Daniel Braid from the Auckland-based Blues, it ushered in a new era of Super Rugby.

Joe van Niekerk reveals how his playboy lifestyle affected his rugby career and insists he’s not the same person he was 18 months ago. But is this change we can believe in?

– Injury-prone England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson has gone from tortured soul to enlightened being with help from mentor Steve Black.

sar-ebersohn– Wales No 8 Andy Powell wouldn’t be playing rugby today if it wasn’t for Springbok selector Ian McIntosh.

– The budding relationship between the Stormers and English club Saracens is bound to reap mutual benefit in years to come.

Robert Ebersohn has no regrets about picking sevens over Super Rugby. The 20-year-old explains why he enjoys working with coach Paul Treu, why the Boks will win the Sevens World Cup in Dubai, and his thoughts on South African Mat Turner playing for the England Sevens side.

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