Steyn's Bok future in doubt
It’s become a bit of a recurring theme‚ but Frans Steyn’s international future is again in doubt.
The kid wonder of Rugby World Cup 2007 turned enfant terrible was in Bok coach Allister Coetzee’s sights to play a role on the current European tour but as is often the case with the player‚ there were complications.
Coetzee did not go into detail‚ but did let drop that it had more to do with Steyn’s club Montpellier than the player himself.
"I had a chat with Frans last week‚" Coetzee said.
"We haven't resolved those issues with the club that will allow him to play."
With Jan Serfontein declaring himself unavailable for this tour to ensure his smooth transition into French rugby‚ ironically in the same midfield as Steyn in southwest France‚ Coetzee was keen on some experience in that channel.
His overtures didn’t get the desired result and the coach made it clear that it is symptomatic of the process involving foreign based players.
Steyn’s relationship with the last three Bok coaches since he moved to Racing Metro in 2009‚ has at times been strained.
Capped 56-times for the Boks‚ the utility back was included in the Springbok squad to play France in a three-Test series in June but played just 47 minutes as a substitute in the series.
He returned to his club‚ ostensibly to work on his fitness.
Coetzee may feel he has to jump through too many hoops to convince players to show up for Bok duty.
And that’s before attempting to secure that player’s release from his club.
Although experience is a much sought after commodity in the Bok camp‚ the coach did provide a rugby argument for the limited use of overseas players.
He believes in continuity in selection and is understandably desperate to avoid a revolving door selection policy.
"You can't in one week bring those players up to the level who has been part of the current squad."
Add to that‚ players’ lukewarm attitude to playing for the Boks. They face deductions in their salaries from clubs unwilling to pay them in their absence.
Coetzee was specifically asked about Serfontein‚ Steyn and Pat Lambie.
"They are all quality players and they are available (in terms of SA Rugby's 30-Test criteria).
"Jan is settling in‚ in France.
"He's not available. Pat hasn't played more than four games.
"Some players have long-term contracts.
"They need to decide whether they want to play for the Boks.
"It is the player that has to make the decision.
"Some players are not certain about their futures.
"They don't want to risk their future. This is not a clear cut thing.
"There is Regulation Nine that allows players to play for their country.
"They have to make a decision‚ either they retire from international rugby‚ or give up their contract and return to South Africa.
"I don't know if there is an alternative at this point in time."