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Frans Steyn makes quiet return to the Springbok squad

Frans Steyn’s return to the Springbok squad has been sedate compared to his high profile walkout from the same setup three years ago‚ which cost him both financially and emotionally.

After nearly five years in the international wilderness‚ mostly self-imposed‚ centre Steyn joined the Springbok camp in Plettenberg Bay on Wednesday‚ ready to make up for lost time.

Steyn‚ who has been playing for Montpellier club in France‚ is still one of the most lethal players in the world but played the last of his 53 Tests in September 2012 against the All Blacks.

Injuries and a high profile hissy fit when he was with the Boks‚ in June 2014‚ appeared to have ended his Test career until current coach Allister Coetzee recalled the tortured genius last week.

Steyn’s petulant exit in 2014 centred on a contractual dispute and the payment of his image rights to a third party who owned them.

They were signed over when he joined Racing Metro in 2009 for a large lump sum payment. When he returned to play for the Sharks in 2012‚ and was awarded a Springbok contract‚ a portion of his salary was supposed to be paid directly to the image rights holders.

This apparently did not happen and was the cause of Steyn’s anger at SA Rugby at the time of his walkout. His Bok contract was eventually dissolved and he has not featured since.

It remains unclear if any lingering animosity remains between Steyn and SA Rugby’s senior management‚ but there has been a rebuilding of bridges that has led to his return.

He was part of a larger World Cup training group in 2015‚ but never made the final cut‚ having shaken the trust of then-coach Heyneke Meyer with his antics in 2014.

“Coach Allister and I had a good chat and he told me I can still make a contribution towards the Springboks‚ while I told him I would do my best for the team when I join them‚” Steyn said.

“I am looking forward to getting to know the squad members a bit better during the next couple of days.”

In welcoming the player‚ Coetzee said he was really looking forward to Steyn slotting into the squad over the next couple of days.

“Frans comes with a wealth of experience and I am delighted that he has joined us as we continue with our preparations for the French series. With so many new faces in the squad’s backline it really is a huge bonus to have a player of the calibre of Frans joining us‚” Coetzee said.

Steyn‚ 30‚ is not the sole survivor of the victorious 2007 World Cup-winning squad‚ in which he played a huge part.

- TMG Digital/TMG Sport

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