The spectre of Morne Steyn looms over this weekend's test match.

The Springboks No 10, who made his first test start in two years in last weekend's 18-10 win over Australia in Pretoria, gave his side exactly what they needed - direction, pinpoint kicking out of hand and off the tee and a calm head. Not to mention 18 points from four penalty goals and two sweet drop goals. Elton Jantjies brings some of those qualities some of the time, but he has not played 64 tests and scored more than 700 points for South Africa as the 32-year-old Stade Francais pivot has done.

And while one would think the Springboks will play it tight should they again opt for Steyn to start, he is capable of solid defence and the odd out of the box play, such as the dinky quick 22m kickoff he tried at Loftus.

We know the All Blacks' back three can expect to be rained on with high balls from his trusty and prodigious boot, while the forwards will drive and use Francois Louw to make a nuisance of himself at the breakdown, as he did to good effect against the Wallabies.


It reminds one of the 2009 version of Springbok-ball, where they beat the All Blacks on no less than three occasions, won the Rugby Championship after edging the Lions and showed the world how to play effective, no-frills rugby under the ELVs. It was the ultimate example of playing to one's strengths.

In Durban that year, the All Blacks fell 31-19 and Steyn, in his rookie year as a Bok, scored all 31 points in an astonishing virtuoso display that saw a try and nine goals, still the most points any player has recorded in a match against the All Blacks.

"He is very experienced and brings some calmness to the backline. When we get opportunities to convert points in their half, he is going to go for poles and get that three points for us," says Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick.

Were it not for a long-term injury to Handre Pollard, Steyn would not even be in the mix. Pat Lambie can also operate well at No 10, but was used at fullback against Australia.
The All Blacks are preparing to face either Steyn or Jantjies on the weekend.

"Morne is a quality player. I thought he and Elton have played well for South Africa, and Elton played well early in the Rugby Championship. To have two good choices at 10... it does flag a slightly different style, but it worked pretty well for them at Loftus," says All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster.

"We have to keep pressure on their kickers but also be smart with territory. They played a pressure game against Australia and deserved the points they got. They'd probably be the best country in the world at taking those opportunities."

But that doesn't mean Foster expects South Africa to slavishly adopt a kick-first mentality.
"They kicked 25 times (against Australia), which isn't a high number in a test match. I don't think they kicked too much. But if the counter-attacking chances are there, we want to take them.

"We're not just preparing for a kicking game. In the last four tests we've played here (in South Africa), there's been a lot of fast, open phase play... that's probably what we're expecting."

Foster is certainly expecting a torrid set-piece battle, as they experienced in Buenos Aires.
"You always expect a big set-piece against Argentina and, funnily enough, it'll be the same again this weekend."

He reported "bumps and bruises" from the Buenos Aires test, but no injury concerns, unlike the home side, whose feisty clash with the Wallabies threw up several issues which will not become clearer until the team is named later in the week.

Bryan Habana and Jesse Kriel were both in doubt, while halfback Rudi Paige was already ruled out with concussion symptoms, meaning the livewire Faf de Klerk will re-enter the fray. The backline injuries, even allowing for the versatility of wing/halfback Francois Hougaard, highlights the folly of entering an international with a 6-2 bench split.

The All Blacks, via Foster, were keeping their selection cards close to their chest, but wing Waisake Naholo is fit, George Moala is "raring to go" and Jerome Kaino has joined the group. Anton Lienert-Brown's tremendous display at centre means they can call on a combination of two out of four quality midfielders.

One would think the All Blacks, with a 16-match winning streak on the line, will go with close to their No 1 line-up.

"There certainly are players who respond to high minutes... but you still have to make sure the energy levels, physical and mental, are still there on a Saturday. I don't think anyone is immune to not being fatigued throughout season," says Foster, as he weighs up his options.