So how much, exactly, has Frans Steyn grown up during his time in France? That’s the question that John Plumtree seems to have an answer to, but the rest of us don’t.
Let’s not beat around the bush – selecting Frans Steyn as captain for the first warm-up and in so doing sending a clear marker that Steyn is seen as a potential alternate captain for the season is an unexpected step, particularly for those Sharks fans who remember Steyn as the “petulant and wilful child” who left the Sharks in a bit of a huff three years ago. I think it’s fair to say that most of us, based on “that perception” of Steyn (whether true or not), wouldn’t consider him a particularly sound choice as a captain. Incidents such as the set of howlers towards the end of the 2007 Super 14 final, which arguably cost the Sharks the title, would tend to reinforce this position.
We’re told that he’s grown up, matured and changed and that he’s now a senior player, ready to take on more responsibility in the team. For Plumtree, having a guaranteed starter as an alternate captain gives him plenty of options; for one, he can mix and match his loose trio (where he has ridiculous depth) without always needing to have Keegan Daniel among the starters. Identifying another loose forward as stand-in skipper ties his hands, especially if either Jacques Botes or Jean Deysel, neither of whom is a likely starter, were to get the nod.
All of this sounds great in theory, but to my way of thinking, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We’re never going to know if Steyn has what it takes to captain this side unless we give him the chance and Friday’s warm-up provides that opportunity. Furthermore, the fact that none of the really strong, established leaders among the forwards will be starting the game, makes it even more vital for Steyn to take a firm grip on proceedings, without a Daniel, Alberts, du Plessis to fall back on. As “sink or swim” goes, it should be a pretty good test.
The major unanswered question here, though, is “why Steyn instead of Lambie?”. That’s not something that I have enough information to even attempt to answer; we’re not sure if Lambie is at all interested in the job, for one thing and perhaps his goal for the season is to concentrate on his own play at flyhalf, rather than taking on vice captaincy as well.Tweet