The South African rugby season has yet to commence, but Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn’s form for French Top 14 side Stade Français could be creating pre-season worries for coach Heyneke Meyer as he plots his 2014 campaign.
According to reports, Stade Français manager Gonzalo Quesada recently admitted that Steyn was struggling to come to grips with the French league, saying that the player ‘needed time to adapt’, had ‘timing problems’ and ‘did not play his best’ and that he ‘made mistakes’ rarely seen by the flyhalf when he was playing in South Africa.
Although the manager remained optimistic that Steyn would improve given time within the Stade Français setup, it might be a cause of concern to some that South Africa’s recent first-choice flyhalf is currently a second-stringer at his French club.
The 29-year old flyhalf has played only a handful of games for the Parisian club since leaving the Bulls in 2013, and he has only started three matches in the top 14 after missing matches late last year due to international commitments on the Springboks’ end of year tour.
Steyn has been upstaged at the French club by 22 year-old rookie flyhalf Jules Plisson, whose form has kept Steyn warming the bench and recently earned the Frenchman a call-up to the France team for the 2014 Six Nations competition.
Meyer will be hoping Steyn can recover his form, regain his place in the Stade Français starting line-up, and get some badly needed game-time under his belt.
An out-of-form Steyn could bode badly for the Springboks as it did when he suffered a dip in form in 2012 which cuminated in him being booed by Springbok supporters in the team’s 14-all draw against England at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Steyn started at flyhalf in all but one of the Springboks’ Tests in 2013, the exception being the game Patrick Lambie started for the Springboks against Scotland at Murrayfield.
Meyer will be closely monitoring Lambie’s form for the Sharks and Johan Goosen’s return from injury for the Cheetahs during the upcoming Super Rugby competition should Steyn struggle to emerge from his current slump.
The Springboks’ 2014 season kicks off with a two-Test match series against Wales in Durban (14 June) and Nelspruit (21 June) followed by a game against Scotland in Port Elizabeth (28 June).