While his coach, critics and former Springbok legends highlight the point that good goal kicking is central to a team’s World Cup success, it remains a small miracle that Morne Steyn manages to stay calm.
On the eve of the global showpiece, on the back end of a relatively poor season by his high standards, the Springbok flyhalf again proved his value by delivering an accurate kicking performance against the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth.
The Boks recorded an 18-5 victory over the World Cup hosts, and three days later it was confirmed that the Bulls pivot would be South Africa’s first choice number 10 in New Zealand.
“The first few games of the Tri-Nations weren’t good because my standard wasn’t where I would have liked it to be, but after the Test in Port Elizabeth things are looking up again,” said Steyn.
Having won back-to-back Super Rugby titles and a Currie Cup with his domestic team in the last four years — while smashing nearly every record along the way — Steyn was excited at the prospect of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup.
He would also not get caught up in the hype, Steyn assured, as the title holders built towards their opening match against Wales on September 11.
“I must say that I’m probably one of the calmer guys before a match and it is more a case of excitement,” he said.
“That feeling is more or less the same in every game I play, and enjoying the contest is very important.”
Under the newest law regulations, in which keeping possession had become more crucial, the Bok pivot admitted the margin of error for tactical kicks had been reduced.
A lot of his success, Steyn said, depended on what his teammates in front of him were doing.
“When the whole team plays as well as they did in that match in PE, it becomes easier for guys like Fourie [du Preez] and myself to make the right decisions on the field,” he said.
Forming a part of the most experienced Springbok squad of all time also contributed to his calm approach.
“If you look at the number of experienced players in this squad, and the amount of caps they have, decision making is that much easier,” Steyn said.
“We all know that Fourie is the key decision maker, and with him there, I am more at ease.
“But the big thing for me will be to know when to kick, run or shift the ball.”
The Springboks depart for New Zealand on Thursday, following a public farewell in Sandton. — Sapa