Frans Steyn injury deepens Springbok flyhalf crisis
Goosen only recently returned from 11 months out due to a horrific knee injury suffered in last year’s URC.
Springbok utility back Frans Steyn started at flyhalf in their final Rugby Championship match against Argentina in Durban, but has been ruled out of the Boks end-of-year-tour through injury. Picture: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images
The Springbok management has a big decision to make over the coming days as they mull their selections for the Springboks and the South African A teams for their end-of-year-tour to Europe in November.
With it confirmed that Frans Steyn has been ruled out of the four matches against Ireland, France, Italy and England due to picking up a knee injury playing for the Cheetahs in the Toyota Cup, it once again brings the Boks flyhalf crisis back into picture.
Earlier this week it was confirmed by SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and Bok head coach Jacques Nienaber that flyhalves Elton Jantjies and Handre Pollard would both be out of the tour.
Erasmus explained that due to Jantjies lack of game time he wasn’t considered, while Nienaber confirmed that Pollard had undergone surgery after limping off on his Leicester Tigers debut and it was highly unlikely that he would recover in time to play any part.
Utility back Damian Willemse then seems to be the preferred choice to start at flyhalf for the Boks on the end-of-year-tour, while Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen is the preferred back-up in the position.
However with Steyn now out, it means the Boks will either have to dig deep into their bag of utility players to provide cover, such as wing Cheslin Kolbe, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and fullback Willie le Roux.
However with Goosen having missed this past Friday night’s game for the Bulls against Benetton due to him suffering a mild concussion, he will be heading into the end-of-year-tour heavily undercooked.
Horrific knee injury
Having only recently come back from 11 months out due to a horrific knee injury suffered in last year’s United Rugby Championship, Goosen missed the Bulls first game against the Lions, but started their second against Edinburgh at fullback.
He then started their third against Connacht at flyhalf and skipped their first away game against Glasgow Warriors as coach Jake White didn’t want to risk him on a 4G pitch, which he was injured on last year.
He then played just 40 minutes of their second away match against Munster, before he went off at halftime because of the head knock, which kept him out of the Benetton game.
Goosen will thus head into the end-of-year-tour with the Boks with at the most three and a half games of playing time under his belt, as the Bulls face the Sharks in their final game before the international break at Loftus next weekend.
Understandably Goosen hasn’t been at his best since returning and it will be unfair on him to be saddled with the responsibility of being Willemse’s back up on a massive end-of-year-tour.
The Boks thus should back one of the plethora of inform URC flyhalves to join the squad as well, in the event that Goosen doesn’t seem up to the task, or if there is another injury to the flyhalf stocks.
Stormers flyhalf Manie Libbok should be the front runner and would be a deserved selection in the Bok setup, although he should have been blooded earlier in the season during the Welsh series and Rugby Championship.
The current flyhalf crisis is one of the Bok managements own making, and if they don’t add another flyhalf to the Bok pool for the end-of-year-tour, they risk a disastrous 2023 if things again don’t go their way.