Steyn vital to World Cup plan

Frans Steyn must play fullback at the global tournament if the Springboks are to implement a winning strategy, says Peter de Villiers.

The Bok coach told a media gathering on Wednesday that the Lions are chasing Steyn, and that come the end of the European season, the Racing Metro utility back should be wearing the colours of the Lions. The Johannesburg franchise has already secured one overseas Bok in Butch James, and De Villiers is hoping that they secure a second.

‘I know the Lions want to get him, and I want him here,’ said De Villiers. ‘If he comes to play here, he will come as a fullback, and that is one of the positions where we are not so well covered.

‘It’s not that we don’t have depth at fullback, it’s more that we need Frans. We want to play the tournament in a certain way and the sooner Frans gets back to South Africa, the better.’

De Villiers spoke at length about the World Cup campaign, and the matches leading up to that tournament. The hectic Super Rugby and Tri-Nations schedules mean there will be no warm-up matches before the global showpiece, and so man-management will be key.

The Bok coach, however, believes the team needs to build some momentum in the Tri-Nations, and then keep that momentum going in the World Cup pool stages.

‘I want to win the Tri-Nations and the World Cup,’ he said. ‘Some people say we are going to New Zealand to defend the World Cup, but I don’t think that is the case. We are No 3 in the world at the moment. If we win the World Cup, then we will be No 1.

‘We will select a squad to take to the World Cup, but not everybody will play. There are seven matches, and the First XV will play in all seven matches.

‘There are no warm-up games before the World Cup, but I see those pool matches as an opportunity to build momentum before we get to the knockout stages. It doesn’t mean we will underestimate our pool opponents, but our best team will enjoy that time to gel.’

Because of the limited time between the Super Rugby competition and the Tri-Nations, the contracted Boks and the team management will meet for three training camps before the Tri-Nations. These camps will be more about planning than actual physical training, and the first camp takes place on 1 May.

After this camp, De Villiers will announce his consultants for the World Cup. He suggested that the captain for the World Cup campaign will also be confirmed after this camp, but he is unlikely to abandon John Smit after sticking with him for three seasons.

The final squad of 30 will be named on 23 August.