Springboks recall veteran Morne Steyn for Lions series

·3-min read
Springbok Morne Steyn (R) takes a shot at goal while playing for Stade Francais.

Fly-half Morne Steyn, who turns 37 next month, was recalled by Rugby World Cup winner South Africa on Saturday for Test series against Georgia and the British and Irish Lions during July and August.

He kicked the series-winning penalty from the halfway line in the second Test against the Lions in Pretoria 12 years ago.

The playmaker returned home from playing for Stade Francais last year with the aim of coaching young fly-halves at the Bulls, his former club in Pretoria.

But he soon re-established himself as the first choice No. 10 and the recent domestic successes of the franchise have owed much to the veteran.

While Handre Pollard is likely to be the first choice playmaker, the experience and goal-kicking ability of Steyn should make him a strong contender for a place on the bench.

Fellow back Francois Steyn is the other survivor from the 2009 Lions tour and apart from being able to operate at full-back, centre or fly-half, can goal penalties from his own half.

The match against Georgia on July 2 will be the first Test for the Springboks since the 2019 World Cup in Japan with the coronavirus pandemic preventing them playing at home or abroad last year.

Before announcing the squad on television, SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said: "The British and Irish Lions tour occurs once every 12 years so it is a very special occasion.

"In most instances, it comes around only once in a Springbok player's career, so I would like to congratulate those who have been selected and wish them luck as they prepare to defend the crown.

"The rivalry between the Springboks and the Lions has been fierce, but it is also characterised by a tremendous respect."

Head coach Jacques Nienaber chose 29 of the 33 players involved in the triumphant World Cup campaign, which culminated in a 32-12 final victory over England.

Prop Tendai 'The Beast' Mtawarira, hooker Schalk Brits and loose forward Francois Louw have retired and full-back Warrick Gelant is injured.

- Eight uncapped players -

There are eight uncapped players in the 46-man squad, which will begin preparations on Monday with a three-week conditioning camp in central city Bloemfontein.

Hooker Joseph Dweba, lock Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and loose forward Jasper Wiese are the forwards who have not played for the Springboks.

Among the backs, full-back Aphelele Fassi, wings Rosko Specman and Yaw Penxe, centre Wandisile Simelane and scrum-half Sanele Nohamba have yet to wear the green and gold.

South Africa will face Georgia on July 2 and 9 at venues to be announced and the Lions on July 24 in Cape Town and on July 31 and August 7 in Soweto.

All the Tests and the Lions' other five tour matches will be staged behind closed doors because of the pandemic.

Squad

Forwards (26)

Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni, Marvin Orie, Pieter-Steph du Toit (all Stormers), Lood de Jager, Coenie Oosthuizen, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez (all Sale Sharks/ENG), Siya Kolisi, Ox Nche, Thomas du Toit (all Sharks), Trevor Nyakane, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen (all Bulls), Joseph Dweba (Bordeaux-Begles/FRA), Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse/FRA), Eben Etzebeth (Toulon/FRA), Vincent Koch (Saracens/ENG), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears/JPN), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat/JPN), Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (Montpellier/FRA), Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Jubilo/JPN), RG Snyman (Munster/IRL), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers/ENG)

Backs (20)

Lukhanyo Am, Aphelele Fassi, Makazole Mapimpi, Sibusiso Nkosi, Sanele Nohamba, Yaw Penxe (all Sharks), Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse (both Stormers), Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach (both Montpellier), Rosko Specman, Francois Steyn (both Cheetahs), Damian de Allende (Munster), Elton Jantjies (Pau/FRA), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles/JPN), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz/JPN), Wandisile Simelane (Lions), Morne Steyn (Bulls)

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