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X factor Frans
February 27, 2013, 14:36:10

MARK KEOHANE writes Frans Steyn, against the Stormers, will show Heyneke Meyer why he should start at No 12 for the Boks.

Jean de Villiers has been an outstanding Springbok but I don’t see him making the 2015 World Cup and I think this year will be his last at the highest level (Sadly this is probably true). De Villiers will still add value to the Boks in 2013 but not necessarily in a starting capacity.

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer raved about De Villiers’s contribution as captain of the Boks in 2012 and indicated he would invest more in De Villiers this season, but the form of Steyn at No 12 could make it hard for Meyer to select De Villiers in his favourite inside centre position.

Steyn has always been used as a fullback and inside centre at the Sharks. On occasion he has played outside centre, wing and even flyhalf, but in his three years at Racing Metro he made the midfield his own and was primarily selected for his physicality in the centres.

Steyn, when he helped win South Africa the World Cup as a 20 year-old, was already a big unit but he is physically imposing in stature and his kicking game and all-round skill level means his physicality is often not acknowledged.

He is a beast in the midfield and weighs over 100 kilograms and is well conditioned. He is strong in contact and he is the only midfielder in South Africa who can consistently stand up in the tackle and offload effectively.

Steyn’s linekicking game makes him a gem at inside centre. He is strong enough to take it to the line and has strong distribution skills. But it’s that monster boot of his that keeps the defence honest and also keeps them hesitant. He provides a foil to Pat Lambie at No 10 and having two such capable out of hand kickers makes it a nightmare for any opposition fullback.

Last year I asked 102-Test Springbok fullback legend Percy Montgomery who he would select at inside centre for the Boks. He said he would pick Steyn ahead of De Villiers but he felt De Villiers at No 13 or on the wing still offered South Africa options and he added he would select both in his run on XV.

But it was Steyn who got his nod at 12 because of how difficult his selection made it for any opposition back three.

Jean has fantastic qualities but he has never had a line kicking game. As a fullback you know he is never going to play for field position by way of his boot and you can positionally defend the back three axis relatively confidently against a 10/12 combination in which the 12 doesn’t have a kicking game,’ said Montgomery. ‘It changes the dynamic completely when a side has a 12 like Frans who can kick the ball further than most international 10s and he can cause a lot of uncertainty to a back three, especially if that back three includes wingers who don’t have strong kicking games. He gets the ball one channel out and he can chase you around from side to side and force back a pressured clearance, in which he gains 30-50 metres and his team gets the ball back.

‘I think he is a gem at inside centre and that is where I’d play him all the time with the Boks. He has matured his game in France and he has added composure to the physicality he has always naturally had. He has also taken ownership of his game and has been rewarded with the captaincy at the Sharks.’

Steyn will benefit from playing inside centre consistently this season and Lambie, if fit, being the regular No 10.

De Villiers will play either No 13 or No 12 against the Sharks on Saturday, depending on the fitness of fellow Bok Juan de Jongh, but either way he and Steyn will enjoy a rare head to head battle that should give Meyer an insight into what will best work for the Boks this season and more specifically in his build-up to the 2015 World Cup.

Currently I would pick De Villiers at outside centre for the Boks in 2013 and Steyn at No 12.

Saturday in Durban will tell you why.

Steyn, like Dan Carter, is gold among the world’s backline elite. He has the X-factor.

Mike I do trust you are backpeddaling on your take re Frans. You were of course way off as I tried to tell you a number of times.

Jean and Allende against Frans and Jordaan. Very interesting clash!


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RE: X factor Frans
February 27, 2013, 14:44:53


I have said that Steyn was pathetic last year - and he was.  He was overweight and poor.   However, I also said that he can prove this year that he deserves Springbok selection.

He got rid of the lard and I complemented him on his performances in both the warm-up game against the Leopards and the game on Saturday against the Cheetahs.   I hope he keeps it up in the weeks to come.   I think he will and will benefit from the presence of Carlos Spencer. 



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RE: X factor Frans
February 27, 2013, 15:00:31

Complimented him for last weeknds match against the Cheetahs???


Why would you do that???


He was dead average .... He did nothing special ... ok ... he didn't do anything stupid either, which makes a change ... that's probably why you complimented him. 


He's still carrying a lot of extra weight around the mid section ...


Sorry Mike ... he didn't do it for me at all.




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RE: X factor Frans
February 27, 2013, 15:16:51

The heading should be Ex X-factor Frans. I am with Capone here. He has not impressed me at all, this year or last! His X-Factor is long gone! Well spotted on him not having a brain fart....that is a step in the right direction for Frans.


Don't get me wrong here, I do believe that he has plenty of talent, I just haven't seen it in a long time. If he can regain a bit of his magic, and lose a bit more weight, then long may he don the green and gold, but on current form, no thanks.


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RE: X factor Frans
February 27, 2013, 16:09:30

Capone and Bluebok

I am trying to keep the peace here.   You will give poor A girl a seizure if you carry on like that - he thinks Steyn walkd on water.   I am taking him apart on the Hougaard issue - so am prepared to be a bit lenient as to Steyn.


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RE: X factor Frans
February 27, 2013, 17:05:27

 This is just an idea people have come up with.....the big powerful 12 who will break the defensive line and offload. The fact is it may work against weak s15 teams like the Cheetahs. But it didn't on Saturday.....he averaged less than 3 metres per carry. 


More crucially where was Fransie when the Cheetahs started running.....did he get across and make one open field tackle?


That game underlined the problems we will have with a switch from Jean to Fransie against NZ or Oz. he won't bully his way through those defenses. And when NZ open things up,you won't see the JdV rush defense, interception threat or corner flag tackling response.


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RE: X factor Frans
February 27, 2013, 18:33:33

Frans was by some distance the best SA centre on display last weekend.


His two mini breaks and offloads in contact are the only examples I have ever seen from a SA 12 todate - they had SBW written all over them and exactly what we want from our Bok 12




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RE: X factor Frans
February 28, 2013, 01:24:32

Manne, relax..The beauty about this situation is that this weekend, we will have all 4 players currently spoken about on 1 field. If Frans is the best 12 we have, this weekend is his test. Likewise with Jean and what value he still adds.


At this present time, even though I am a Shark to the core, JDV is our best option at 12. He just brings something extra and his experience is non replaceable. I do, however, know that JDV is getting deep into the back end of his career and we need someone else to step up. I am hoping Fransie is the man. I am hoping he shows all the attributes he hit the scene with on Saturday. He did have a relatively quiet game against the Cheetahs by his standards but it was the first game of the tournament and players were just feeling each other out. As I mentioned, starting well is what every team wants so they might have been a little conservative. I expect this weekends fixtures to be a huge step up from all teams over last weekend.


After the Sharks v Stormers this weekend, we will be better equipped to compare the two. This is probably the game of the weekend. Blues Crusaders is a huge one too but if we have to select the game of the round, it would have to be Sharks v Stormers. The reunion panel (NZL equivalent to boots and all) said, "The Sharks will be in the finals (top 6) this year and there is no doubt about that. They look like the real deal and have the ability to grind teams down with their rolling maul and then unleash some pretty deadly backs!" Another panel member commented that the Sharks are probably the best exponents of the maul in the competition and it was credit to WP in the Currie Cup final that they managed to come up with a plan to disrupt that otherwise they might have not got the victory there! I sure hope Sharks have learnt from that and the Stormers have no answer this weekend.

Good to see our kiwi friends have all confidence in the Sharks and have all but permanent markered them into the finals this year. I sure hope they are right!


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RE: X factor Frans
February 28, 2013, 05:16:35


You are in many ways correct - but I think Francoi Steyn will be severely tested on Saturday and so will De Villiers.   There are two entirely differenct reasons for that.  

Steyn's direct oppenent is De Allende.   Physically he is vey strong and in fact faster in speed than Steyn.  The latter  may have the advantage of bullying opposition centers through force - but he will have more difficulties in dealing with De Allende than with for instance Ebersohn and other 12's in SA.   I can for a variery of reasons not see Steyn as being dominant against De Allende and he will be severely tested on Saturday.

De Villiers will also be tested severely by his opposite number.  Jordaan is a very clever player - probably the fastest backline player in South Africa - and slippery to boot.  He is also an excellent defender and De Villiers will have his hands full as well.

Both Steyn and De Villiers are going to have to show exceptional skill in contending with the young guns and the outcome will be very interesting.   I have a feeling that in the relevant case De Villiers may have an edge over Steyn - but that remains to be seen.   

Matter of fact the youner players may have the edge over both Steyn and De Villiers.   However, even if it does happen - A girl and Mozart will refuse to accept it and try to sweep it under the carpet. 


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RE: X factor Frans
February 28, 2013, 05:36:17

Mike, you forgetting Steyn's offloading abilities and deft touches. Built like a horse, deft little touches like a fairy. Steyn is far more complete than De Allende at this stage. Steyn is probably stronger than De Allende too and judging by the bulls centres breaking through a few times on the weekend, I dont think De Allende is a "game changer."

He is a good looking prospect though so we will have to wait and see. JDV will have Jordaan covered most of the match but if he blinks, he is gona be under his posts charging a conversion.


Sharks tactics look like they are gona try come out and steam roll the Stormers. They will send the beast, Jannie, Van Der Merwe, Coetzee, Deysel, Steyn and Pietersen hammering away at Jantjies and De Allende (the latter probably having to tackle for Jantjies) channel before stretching the Stormers defence and sending Lambie, Mvovo, Ludik and Jordaan through the gap.

Perfect gameplan, now if only the Sharks can do that ;-)


Two strong centres need something to seperate them and a point of difference. That is where Steyn's offloading skills come into the picture. De Allende will need to wrap Steyn up ball and all otherwise he is gona free the pass and Steyn will be in a good position to do so as he will get go forward ball. I see a lot of talk about Steyn making only 3metres on average last game. That doesn't matter when he draws 2 or 3 defenders in and gets the pass away to free up men on his outside. Thats all we want in a 12.


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RE: X factor Frans
February 28, 2013, 06:09:21


My problem with Francois Steyn last year was that he never once off-loaded balls in tackle situations.  I did notice that he did that in two cases on Saturday - and hope it will become more often as the season progresses.

The problem De Allende had on Saturday was that he had to cover for both his defence as a center and also to defend upon the part of the clueless Earl Silky Hands Jantjies.  That would still be the case on Saturday - and it opens up the way for Steyn to operate better than he would otherwise have done.  If Silky Hands was a decent defender - than it would be more of a direct issue between De Allende and Steyn - but the outcome would nevertheless be interesting.

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