Sport / Rugby

Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby Journalist
2 minute read
15 Jun 2017
7:00 pm

The brilliance of Jan Serfontein keeps Frans Steyn benched

Rudolph Jacobs

While it would seem as if Lionel Mapoe is preventing the mercurial utility back from making a start for the Springboks, it's not the case.

Jan Serfontein is pulling the strings already for the Springboks' backline. Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images.

It would seem so on paper but Lionel Mapoe isn’t keeping Frans Steyn out of the Springboks’ starting team.

Instead, coach Allister Coetzee believes he simply can’t accommodate the experienced utility back because he has to keep Jan Serfontein at No 12.

The Bulls midfielder had an excellent outing in last week’s 37-14 win over France and wants him to do the same in Durban on Saturday.

Also read: Springboks team: Lucky No 13 for Lionel Mapoe

“Jan is a physical centre and that’s what you need from your 12. A strong inside centre is going to get you over the advantage line. That’s what Jan does. He’s experienced, understands his job and compliments Elton (Jantjies) well,” said Coetzee.

“In terms of reading play he helps Elton to make decisions and not just with his centre partner.”

After a slow start, Serfontein flourished eventually and showed his high work rate.

“Jan really had an outstanding game. We didn’t just look at whether he performed at his primary role as a 12,” said Coetzee.

“There were other things too like the touches he had in the game, defensively and on attack. His double touches and triple actions. It just showed the character of the guy.”

With Serfontein pulling the strings, Mapoe is expected to provide the momentum.

He replaces the injured Jesse Kriel.

“Lionel is out and out a guy who has got a bit of gas and pace, he has played at wing, he understands his role with ball in hand on the outside and looking for space on the outside,” said Coetzee.

“I think it has gone well with the two. If you know them quite well you would think they are very reserved people, quiet guys. But not on the field, they are vocal and understand their roles.”

Picking Mapoe, however, doesn’t mean the Springboks’ coach doesn’t value the input from Steyn.

“Frans is a fantastic guy to have around. Forget about starting or long-term, all we focus on is the second Test. From there on we will move on, but Frans is part and parcel of this group,” said Coetzee.

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