Morne Steyn is a Rolls-Royce and could play on for another two years, says Edinburgh coach Mike Blair

Mike Blair describes him as a Rolls-Royce and the Edinburgh coach has nothing but the utmost respect for Morne Steyn.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 6:52 pm
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 07: Morne Steyn of South Africa kicks the match winning penalty during the 3rd Test match between South Africa and British & Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on August 07, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The venerable South African stand-off looks set to feature against the capital side this Saturday after the 37-year-old answered an SOS call from the Bulls.

The Pretoria-based side lost regular fly-half Johan Goosen to a knee injury during the win over Cardiff Blues last weekend, their first in the United Rugby Championship.

Chris Smith stepped up to the plate and kicked 19 points as the Bulls came from 16-3 down at half-time to notch a 29-19 victory.

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Blair expects Smith to start at the DAM Health Stadium but Steyn is a useful man to have on the bench, as the British & Irish Lions found to their cost in the summer.

It was the veteran who dealt the tourists a fatal blow in Cape Town when his 78th minute penalty won the final Test and the Series for the Springboks.

Steyn is only three years younger than Blair but the Edinburgh coach thinks the stand-off can go on playing for a while yet.

“He’s a good player,” said Blair. “His main strength is his kicking game which, as we know, is an important facet of the game.

“The type of player he is, he’s probably got another couple of years in him. He’s a Rolls-Royce. He keeps his shirt clean, he moves the guys around the pitch. He’s like the conductor - he puts the team in the right places.

“I wouldn’t have thought he’ll start. Chris Smith did pretty well when he came on and he’s got a big boot on him as well.

“But yeah, not a bad call up is he?”

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Edinburgh got their first taste of South African competition in the URC when they drew 20-20 with the Stormers last weekend.

The URC schedule has meant that the four South African teams have each had to play their opening four fixtures in Europe and their task has been made harder by the absence of their international players who were on duty at the Rugby Championship. But there were signs in last weekend’s third round that the quartet were starting to adapt.

The Sharks and the Bulls both won, the Stormers drew with Edinburgh and the Lions lost narrowly to Glasgow Warriors.

Blair has been impressed by the way the touring sides have found their feet and believes the Bulls are probably the pick of the bunch.

“We certainly thought that before the competition started and watching the second half in particular of the Cardiff game you could see they were starting to click into gear,” said the coach.

“I think it would have been nice to get the South African teams in week one and week two when they were a little bit rusty but I think now they’re starting to hit their straps.

“It’ll be a real contest for us. They’re a huge team. I read [Cardiff coach] Dai Young’s quote saying they’re the biggest team he thinks he’s ever faced in his life. You look at the back row in particular and they’re absolutely huge men and they play to that as a strength.

“So whether it’s Morne Steyn or Chris Smith, we expect them to march them around the pitch and try to put them in good areas so we need to try to combat that.”