Peter de Villiers believes Morne Steyn has the ability to guide the Springboks to a World Cup title.
Steyn kicked all 18 of the Boks’ points in Saturday’s win against the All Blacks. His goal- and drop-kicking accuracy ensured the Boks ended their losing streak and secured an important win before the all-important World Cup, and that performance also gave the coach encouragement in the context of how the Boks will play at the global tournament.
‘We scrummed well and our lineout was outstanding once again, so there was a good platform to work from and create scoring opportunities,’ said De Villiers. ‘We went through a period during the first half where we worked our way into the All Blacks’ half and scored points. That is how World Cup rugby is played.’
Butch James was dropped after last week’s loss to the Wallabies, although after that game De Villiers explained that it was not so much a case of dropping James as it was a case of giving Steyn game time in a starting capacity.
However, after this Saturday’s win against the All Blacks, De Villiers suggested that Steyn will wear the No 10 jersey at the World Cup.
‘I never had questions [or doubts] about Morne,’ he said. ‘He’s still our No 1. Sometimes you have to make these decisions, to drop him for two games to help his development. I know he can take this team to a World Cup and through a World Cup.’
The Boks have scored three tries in their four Tri-Nations Tests, all three of those in the first two matches. Saturday’s victory was down to the boot of Steyn, but De Villiers ignored the criticism of the Boks’ attack and reiterated that goal-kicking will be all-important at the World Cup.
‘There are no bonus points for tries at a World Cup,’ the coach said.
Captain Victor Matfield conceded that improvements needed to be made before the Boks depart for New Zealand. He also laughed off talk of playing the All Blacks in a potential semi-final.
‘You can’t talk about things like that,’ he said. ‘You don’t know if they are going to be there [in the semi-finals] or if we are going to be there. We have to focus on the next game against Wales.
‘I was impressed with the defence today. There will always be linebreaks, but the guys worked hard to get back and make the cover tackle.
‘There’s still lots to improve. Everybody [the team and the country] needed the win today, but we have a lot of work to do between now and the World Cup.’
De Villiers also underlined the importance of the result in Port Elizabeth.
‘It was just reward for all the hard work. The result on the scoreboard will help us and make people believe [in us] again. It was a tough game but we came through.’
Patrick Lambie went off during the first half with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. De Villiers refused to comment on the nature or severity of the injury and said a full medical report will be relayed on Monday.