The multi-talented Francois Steyn has been on a backline merry-go-round ever since he made his first class debut in July 2006, at fullback for the Sharks in a Currie Cup game against Free State, and after experiencing every position in the backline bar scrumhalf at Test and Super 14 level, where would he prefer to play?
Mike Greenaway reports on www.iol.co.za.
“I see my future as a centre,” he said on Tuesday. “I would prefer 12 (the position he excelled in at the Rugby World Cup when he took over from injured Jean de Villiers) but 13 is not vastly different and I am getting used to it.”
Steyn will be at outside centre on Saturday against the Brumbies and will be up against arguably the best proponent of that position in world rugby, Stirling Mortlock.
In fact, the Sharks’s coaching staff are convinced Steyn can be a swash-buckling, barn-storming outside centre in the mould of Mortlock.
Steyn started the Super 14 at fullback for the Sharks and had mixed fortunes, sometimes being guilty of trying to do too much on his own; he then had two games at flyhalf, with pretty much the same result, and for the Hurricanes game in Wellington he was moved to 13, for Waylon Murray.
“Centre is closer to the action than fullback, which suits me,” says Steyn, who will turn 21 on May 14. “Basically your job is to run at the opposition, and I enjoy doing that, too.”
And at 13 he is spared the pressure of the decision-making that goes with flyhalf and, to a lesser extent, inside centre.
In the Sharks’s backline, the experienced Stefan Terblanche has now established himself as an indispensable fullback, very much in the role of Percy Montgomery; at fly-half, Frederic Michalak is the undisputed No 1 and was conspicuous by his absence when he was benched for the matches against the Lions and Reds; and at inside centre Bradley Barritt is the lynch pin that holds the backline together, calling the shots on attack and defence.
Which leaves Steyn as a rather big jig-saw piece to slot into the backline puzzle at 13, with Waylon Murray as back-up, although the latter could find himself on the left wing if JP Pietersen does not find form.
Against the Highlanders, two tries were scored through defensive lapses out wide between Steyn and his wing, but coach Dick Muir says they were not Steyn’s fault.
“The problem was Waylon (on the wing) was ahead of Frans, which he shouldn’t have been, and that caused the hesitation,” Muir said.
“He is adapting well to the position considering he hadn’t played there before and he will get better and better. He enjoys playing centre and sees his future in the midfield, not fullback or fly-half.”
Muir said his backline is excited about building on their positive display last week.
“Conditions will be good, clear skies are forecast, meaning we will have only our second game of the season without humidity or rain.” Muir is waiting on injury reports on Keegan Daniel and Jannie du Plessis.Tweet