Rugby: Steyn back in place of James

By Mike Greenaway

Morne Steyn. Photo / Getty Images
Morne Steyn. Photo / Getty Images

Maybe it was the close-range Butch James penalty attempt that wobbled at a crucial time of the game at Kings Park last week, or maybe it is all part of the grand plan that James' restoration at first five-eighths would last just one match and then Morne Steyn would be reinstalled.

The impression had been that James would be given two games to impress - he was given one, and yesterday coach Peter de Villiers suggested that the penny had finally dropped as to the only hope the Boks have of winning the World Cup.

"Butch is a brilliant first five-eighths but it looks to me like the destiny of the World Cup will be dictated by penalty goals, and we sit with a 90 per cent kicker in our country. I might be wrong but that is how I see it going," the coach said.

"How will we know what stuff we need to work on with Morne Steyn if we don't play him with the best players, and work on the little stuff we know can make a difference," de Villiers explained.

"I can't disqualify him for trying to do his job overseas in the Tri-Nations without players he knows well. Morne needs to be assessed when he is around guys that he is comfortable with, and he has not had a chance to play with the top Boks for six months, so this was not a difficult choice at first five-eighths, and it is the right one."

Steyn for James was the eyebrow-raiser in the five changes made to the team that lost 14-9 to the Wallabies in Durban.

The only injury-enforced change was at fullback, where Patrick Lambie has come in from the Currie Cup cold to leapfrog Gio Aplon, who replaced hamstrung Frans Steyn midway through the Durban test.

Danie Rossouw, who like John Smit has started in all three Tri-Nations matches, was always going to make way for Willem Alberts on the blindside flank, just as Smit is benched for Bismarck du Plessis, and there was mild surprise that in-form Tendai Mtawarira has stepped down for Gurthro Steenkamp.

"If you look at the changes you will see our World Cup plan in operation," said de Villiers.

"If you take 30 guys to the World Cup, you have to give all 30 guys hope that they can play in the World Cup final. Back in May, I promised them all that they would get a fair chance, so it would have been stupid not to give them their game time now."

De Villiers explained that he knows what he has in Aplon at fullback, and Lambie at five-eighths, but wants to have a look at Lambie at 15 at test level.

"I played Gio against Australia in Australia, and he came on last week at fullback. He is an elusive runner, we know that.

"Lambie on other hand has so much talent, he is a fullback who can play at first five-eighths and 12, which ... gives us the chance provided by an injury to Frans Steyn to have a closer look at Patrick."

- Independent (SA)

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