Morne Steyn says the Springboks’ game plan is not dependent on him playing flyhalf and neither does their success hinge on his goal kicking.
Steyn scored all his side’s points in their 31-19 victory over the All Blacks at King’s Park on Saturday. He’s now twice won crucial matches for Springboks with his prolific boot, the first occasion being at Loftus in his second Test when he sunk a late penalty that secured the British & Irish Lions series.
However, on Saturday his skill extended to his excellent tactical kicking, which ensured the Blacks were consistently under pressure. His combination and understanding with Bulls team-mate Fourie du Preez was patent, and the duo were the chief assassins of the Blacks off the boot.
However, with Pienaar likely to recover from an ankle injury in time for next week’s Test against Australia at Newlands, the Springboks’ selectors face a massive decision.
They are likely to favour Pienaar, who is perceived to be an inferior tactical kicker to Steyn, but possesses a game breaking potential that coach Peter de Villiers has lauded on numerous occasions.
Steyn said he felt he made a good impression with the opportunity he was afforded through Pienaar’s absence, but stressed that the Springboks would be able to replicate their successful game plan even if Pienaar started ahead of him in Cape Town.
‘I see Ruan and myself as two pretty similar players,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘He’s a good tactical and goal kicker, so nothing should change if he came into the side.
‘I know he struggled in Bloemfontein [with his goal kicking], but we’ve all had off days. We know how good he is and the beauty of this side is that it doesn’t depend on one player like me to win matches.
‘Today was a good day for me, who says Ruan can’t have a similar game in Cape Town?’
Springbok captain John Smit was liberal in his praise of Steyn, but cautioned against an putting too much pressure on him.
‘It’s one thing for the side to create the pressure and penalties, but it’s another for Morne to go on and convert those penalties into points in a Test match,’ Smith said.
‘He’s still young but he seems so composed under pressure, which is a fantastic quality to have. I would just be careful of heaping loads of pressure on him. He’s a talented footballer and he needs to be allowed to grow.’
Loosehead prop Beast Mtawarira said Steyn’s accuracy off the boot was a constant source of motivation for the Springboks’ heavies.
‘When you work so hard up front and get the rewards in the form of penalties it’s great that that work is capitalised on,’ he said.
‘It galvanised the big boys tonight, and we kept going harder and harder because we knew that Morne was in the zone and that our efforts were going to be rewarded.’
By Ryan Vrede, at King’s Park