MARK KEOHANE writes Frans Steyn has sizzled at this World Cup. And centre mate Jaque Fourie is proving to be as hot. They both make his Week 2 form XV.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has hinted Frans Steyn will stay at inside centre for the duration of the tournament, regardless of the fitness of Jean de Villiers, who started the tournament as his preferred No 12 option. You can’t fault De Villiers for being seduced by Steyn’s form and the Paris-based fullback/centre has again shown a dismissing South African public just how good he is and why his skills demand national selection.
In Durban, when the Boks lost to the Wallabies, Steyn was grilled on social networks for being overweight, too slow and a liability to the Boks. Post that match he cut his Fabio-type locks and the illusion (at least among so many rugby supporters) is he also lost five kilograms. He hasn’t but It is hilarious how the South African supporter can so easily dismiss the talents of a player one week and the very next hail him indispensible.
The reaction to the one point win against Wales was as predictable. The Boks were all crap. A fortnight later the same blokes were legends who would have no problem knocking over Australia and New Zealand in successive weeks. This on the basis of beating 15th ranked Fiji.
A few diehards were quick to remind me it was not that they beat Fiji, but the manner in which they did it. I must say the Boks looked twice as good in scoring 49 points against Fiji as Namibia did in scoring 25 – well almost twice as good.
On Thursday they’ll go close to a 100 against Namibia and life will be just swell for at least a week.
I can’t help but think of the struggle against England in 2003, when the Boks lost 25-6, how they pumped Uruguay and then produced sensational rugby in beating Samoa 60-8 in Brisbane. A week later the All Blacks crushed them by 20 points in a quarter-final.
I’ve seen this movie before, just like I’ve seen the movie of Steyn, who like All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter is a freakish international talent.
Steyn has given the Boks another dimension at 12, just like he does when playing fullback. You can play him in either position and he is a threat to the opposition. Just keep him away from flyhalf.
Steyn’s shift to inside centre has allowed for the introduction of Pat Lambie at fullback and it is good to see both players making a contribution.
De Villiers will struggle to get back at inside centre, but I’d still pick him at No 12 for the quarter-final and have Steyn at fullback.
I thought Steyn was very good against Fiji and outside of him Jaque Fourie confirmed his standing as the best No 13 at the tournament. World class!
When picking my form team every week I’ve looked at the quality of the opposition, the importance of the match and then the individual impact. Ireland v Australia and Wales v Samoa was the exception to a lot of mismatches.
Samoa, for example, are a tougher side than Fiji and Welsh inside centre Jamie Roberts ran strongly, but he hasn’t got the dimension to his game of Steyn and that’s why the Bok gets my vote.
Danie Rossouw, like Steyn, had a wonderful game and he couldn’t be ignored, but predictably there is a strong Irish presence on the basis of what their pack produced against Australia at Eden Park. Their loose-forwards, as a unit, had to be included, as did their front row.
Ireland and South Africa dominate the team and Fourie and Ireland’s veteran lock Paul O’Connell make the side for the 2nd successive week.
RWC Form XV (Week 2)
15. Lee Halfpenny (Wales)
14. Vincent Clerc (France)
13. Jaque Fourie (SA)
12. Frans Steyn (SA)
11. Shane Williams (Wales)
10. Morne Steyn (SA)
9. Fourie du Preez (SA)
8. Jamie Heaslip (Ire)
7. Sean O’Brien (Ire)
6. Stephen Ferris (Ire)
5. Paul O’Connell (Ire)
4. Danie Rossouw (SA)
3. Mike Ross (Ire)
2. Rory Best (Ire)
1. Cian Healy (Ire)
RWC Form XV (Week 1)
15. Israel Dagg (NZ)
14. Vereniki Goneva (Fiji)
13. Jacque Fourie (SA)
12. Jamie Roberts (Wales)
11. Digby Ionie (Aus)
10. Quade Cooper (Aus)
9. Will Genia (Aus)
8. Tobey Faletau (Wales)
7. Schalk Burger (SA)
6. Sam Warburton (Wales)
5. Paul O’Connell (Ire)
4. James Horwill (Aus)
3. Ben Alexander (Aus)
2. Marius Tince (Rom)
1. Andy Sheridan (Eng)