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Meyer backs under-fire Steyn

Date

David Legge

Morne Steyn of South African had an off-night with the boot in Dunedin.

Morne Steyn of South African had an off-night with the boot in Dunedin. Photo: Getty Images

JOHANNESBURG: Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is not writing off fly-half Morne Steyn despite his dismal performance in a weekend loss to the All Blacks.

Once-deadly goal kicker Steyn missed four of five shots at the posts in Dunedin last Saturday as South Africa slumped 21-11 to New Zealand in a fourth-round Rugby Championship clash.

It was his worst return in seven Tests this season, during which he clicked only in a comfortable home victory over newcomers Argentina in the opening round of the revamped southern hemisphere championship.

Meyer admitted Monday when the team arrived at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg that seven missed kicks at goal by Morne Steyn (1/5), replacement fly-half Johan Goosen (1/2) and inside centre Francois Steyn (0/2) cost the Springboks victory.

"I do not want to knock individuals but the missed kicks were crucial," the coach admitted. "Morne is mentally tough, though, and look at what happened to Bryan Habana.

"Bryan is now playing phenomenal rugby again," Meyer said of the wing who has scored three tries in the Championship after recovering spectacularly from a poor previous season that led many to predict his Test career was over.

"The mental break will do Morne good and we will look at the situation after the Currie Cup matches this weekend and decide who will play against Australia in Pretoria."

Morne Steyn is under pressure from second-choice Goosen, a 20-year-old who played Super Rugby for the first time this year, and Golden Lions fly-half Elton Jantjies, another inventive young star with an excellent place kicking record.

South Africa host the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld on September 29 and face world champions New Zealand at the 93,000-seat Soccer City stadium in Soweto one week later.

The All Blacks will clinch the title if they win in Argentina next weekend, leaving Australia and South Africa to fight for second place in the former Tri-Nations championship.

Meyer heaped praise on the pack that held its own in Dunedin only to see hard won possession repeatedly squandered by poor field kicking, especially from Morne Steyn and scrum-half Ruan Pienaar.

"We scrummed well and I was very happy with our front row. The loose forward combination we used was superb against the best back row in the world and we have four great locks.

"I have a special feeling about this team -- we are on the right track and the results will come. There were a lot of positives from Dunedin and we did enough to win that game."

AFP

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