Frans’s future remains uncertain

Peter de Villiers is planning to discuss Frans Steyn’s inclusion in the Springboks’ World Cup squad with Racing Metro.

Steyn cut an impressive figure at Monday’s training session, out-booting team-mates Morne Steyn and Butch James with consummate ease. He played in Racing’s defeat to Montpellier last Friday and has been cleared to feature for the Boks in the remaining Tri-Nations Tests.

While team doctor Craig Roberts is yet to receive a full medical report from the French club, he can confirm the injury is nothing but a ‘lammie’ and Steyn is ready to play. Whether Steyn plays for the Boks beyond the Tri-Nations is an issue that’s yet to be resolved.

‘Those discussions are on the cards for the next few months,’ De Villiers told ‘I had planned to go to France to speak to Frans, but I just haven’t had the time. I will go and talk to his coach as well as the owner of his club about his availability. I will do the same with the coaches of BJ Botha [Ulster] and Butch James [Bath].

‘There can’t be any miscommunication. We can’t have what happened before the Wales Test [in June, where James was withheld by Bath] happen again. We’ve learned from the disruptions of the past. I need to get my ducks in a row.’

The relationship between Steyn and De Villiers has been strained since the young fullback departed for France at the end of the 2009 Tri-Nations. De Villiers has hit back at criticism around this issue, and cited Steyn’s agent as the primary stumbling block.

Speaking about their present relationship, De Villiers was reluctant to say that everything is hunky dory.

‘This whole storm around Frans is about miscommunication. I’ve had a nice chat to him since he’s arrived in South Africa and he understands his role in the next two Tests.

‘It’s a good thing you can’t see people’s hearts. You can’t see what’s inside, you can only see what’s on the surface. It’s like some people [the media] who smile in press conferences but then you see what’s really in their hearts when you read the paper.

‘Frans is interacting well with the others, but I think it’s a bit premature to say he’s happy.’

De Villiers confirmed that he hasn’t softened his stance on selecting overseas players, and that he will consider local players before those based abroad. However, he added that quality flyhalves and fullbacks are in short supply in this country, a fact that leads to the exploration of European options.

‘We struggle to find many in that [Test] class. There are still too many empty boxes, and with Frans, we tick more boxes.’

By Jon Cardinelli, in Pretoria

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