Sharpshooting Steyn Rubbishes Ball Concerns
There is nothing wrong with the Gilbert "Virtuo" ball that is being used at the World Cup, and kickers should not be looking for excuses, Springbok flyhalf Morne Steyn said on Tuesday.
"For me there not a big difference in a ball, I think if it is not going well with the kicking you always look for something else to blame, but for me, I think the ball is the same and you can't blame the ball."
His comments were made after several kickers at the tournament complained that the new ball was giving them problems.
Eyebrows were first raised when England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson and Argentina's Martin Rodriguez missed 10 shots at goal in their opening-round match at the Otago Stadium.
Wilkinson was later also involved in the "ball-gate" scandal which resulted in the temporary suspension of England's kicking coach Dave Alred and national fitness coach Paul Stridgeon, who swapped match balls during the team's Pool B match against Romania.
Steyn, who is the tournament's leading points-scorer on 53, said that the only difference he noticed was the patterns on the ball.
“For me it is the same. Before the tournament the guys of Gilbert came to us and showed us the ball and showed us that it is almost the same ball as in the Super 15, just with different patterns on it.”
As was the case when the South Africans faced Wales in Fiji, Steyn was well aware of the fact that the Westpac Stadium could not exactly be described as a goal-kickers’ paradise.
“Wellington is the hardest place for a kicker to come and play,” he said.
“It has this strange wind that comes in there and swirls so hopefully on Sunday the weather will be better.”
One of the key battles in Sunday's quarter-final will be between the Bok pivot and Wallaby trickster Quade Cooper.
Without making too big a fuss about it, Steyn said that he is ready for that showdown.
“He (Cooper) is a very exciting player and a very good flyhalf and you know he's got good kicking and running abilities and all those skills of his so whatever he can do is helping them at the moment.
“Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't so now we are looking forward to what he will bring to us.”
The only other man to have lined up a kick for the Springbok – Frans Steyn – had to return home after picking up a shoulder injury in last week's match against Samoa.
The centre not only brought a new dimension to the team in general play, but also posed a threat to opposing sides because of his long-range goal kicking abilities.
“I'm not in Frans' range, but maybe close to it so maybe some of the long ones will come to me now,” said Steyn who famously converted a 55-metre penalty which handed the Springboks a series victory over the British and Irish Lions in 2009.
“I think I can slot some of those long ones, but Frans just takes it to another level, from his own 10 metre, and that is a bit out of my range so let's see how the weather holds up and maybe I can make that distance with the wind at my back.”