Frans Steyn hinted that he came close to ending his Springbok career during his time in France.
Steyn will play his 50th Test against Argentina at Newlands on Saturday. This after making his international debut as a 19-year-old against Ireland in 2006 and featuring in two World Cups, including the tournament-winning run in 2007.
However, it wasn’t all a smooth ride over the past six years. During 2010, Steyn and his agent Gerrie Swart had a fallout with then Bok head coach Peter de Villiers.
De Villiers selected Steyn (who was based at French club Racing Metro at the time) for a Test against Wales in Cardiff in June that year. However, it was reported that Steyn had rejected the call-up.
De Villiers blamed Swart for his strained relationship with the player, but the matter was sorted out during a private meeting involving all parties and Steyn featured in the match. He also made De Villiers’ World Cup squad last year.
However, ahead of his special moment this weekend, Steyn said he was delighted to be back under current circumstances: ‘The goals I have now differ to the ones I had when I first arrived in France. The last couple of years was an interesting time in my career, but I’m happy to be back. There was a time when I was thinking of staying [in France], but the Sharks played a part in bringing me back and I’m here now.’
During his time in Europe, Steyn played alongside and against several of the Pumas players who will face the Boks, including former Racing team-mate, star flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez.
Steyn stressed that the Argentines shouldn’t be underestimated: ‘Especially the ones in the starting line-up. They’re very good players and it will be an interesting contest on Saturday. I think Argentina will surprise one of the teams during the competition this season, especially at home.’
By Gareth Duncan, in Cape Town