Morne Steyn has been a great servant to SA rugby, says Boks coach Jacques Nienaber
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Johannesburg – Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber had the highest of praise for flyhalf Morne Steyn during his briefing with the media on Tuesday, where he discussed his squad for the End-of-Year Tour.
Bok flyhalf Steyn has decided to retire from international rugby, bringing to a close a 12-year long and 68 Test match career in which he scored 742 points for the national team. He will continue to play for the Bulls, and he is believed to be renegotiating his contract with the union to extend beyond 2022.
“What can you say about Morne,” Nienaber began his soliloquy on the 37-year-old. “He has been such a great servant to South African rugby and he is a brilliant rugby player.
“Firstly, hats off to him because of what he has delivered on the rugby field. Just the little bit of magic that he created in terms of the contest with the British and Irish Lions, beating them twice (in 2009 and earlier this year) in the specific manner that he did, it just speaks volumes of the guy on the rugby field.
“Off the rugby field, he was phenomenal. Working with him in these last 20 weeks he always contributed, always helped paint the big picture, always helped prepare the team. He was never scared to give his wisdom over to the younger players.
"There are volumes that I can talk about regarding him.”
Nienaber confirmed that Steyn decided to hang up his boots to spend more time with his family after a difficult 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions, and the bio-bubble forced onto the Boks this year for the B&I Lions tour and the Rugby Championship.
Said Nienaber: “That was the big contributing factor in terms of him making his decision,” after which the Bok mentor added that Steyn believed that he would have little impact as a player in the 2023 Rugby World Cup – another contributing factor that made him call it a day in Test rugby.
The retirement of Steyn will, nevertheless, test the Boks’ depth at flyhalf in November when they face Wales, Scotland and England, with Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies the only recognised No 10s in the squad. Damain Willemse will, no doubt, cover the position as well, but he has been selected as an utility-back.
“We respect his decision and wish him well, and like I said, what a fantastic guy, not just a fantastic rugby player, but a fantastic guy off the field and as a person,” Nienaber concluded.