x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Uncapped Steyn emerges as favourite for key fly-half berth

Morne Steyn, the Bulls fly-half, was the headline selection and the uncapped, drop-goal specialist is now a strong favourite to wear the coveted No 10 jersey

JOHANNESBURG // There are 10 black players in coach Peter de Villiers' squad to face the British & Irish Lions later this month. It is a measure of South Africa's steady maturity that no-one batted an eyelid at this remarkable fact. Instead, the talking point after the announcement on Monday evening was the inclusion of 10 Pretoria Bulls players. Morne Steyn, the Bulls fly-half, was the headline selection and the uncapped, drop-goal specialist is now a strong favourite to wear the coveted No 10 jersey in the first Test in Durban on June 20.

"During the Super 14 it was in the back of my mind that I would like to play for the Boks," said Steyn. "It is a big dream come true and hopefully it can carry on for a while." The team announcement may have taken place at a swanky Johannesburg casino, but there was little left to chance by De Villiers. Jake White's predecessor has opted for experience and proven players under pressure as the Boks seek revenge for the 1997 series defeat.

"We've got good ball carriers and runners and we have the mixture to play a total rugby kind of game," said De Villiers. There are two potential weaknesses in his selection, though. He doesn't have a specialist full-back and Ruan Pienaar, his preferred fly-half, has played very little rugby in the past two months due to injury. De Villiers laughed off the questions about full-back and was non-plussed about Pienaar: "Ruan is the Tiger Woods of rugby...he'll be ready."

cvanderberg@thenational.ae