Mystery as Frans Steyn withdrawn from Springboks squad
June 11, 2014
Frans Steyn withdrew from the Springboks squad for "unspecified reasons" © PA Photos
The Springboks' Test build-up has taken a major blow after it was announced Sharks centre Frans Steyn had withdrawn from the squad for unspecified reasons, although it appears that a failure to agree contractual terms with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) is at the heart of the decision.
On a day the two parties both issued their own statements, the SARU said that officials had been advised by Steyn that he did not wish to be considered for the incoming Test series against Wales and after a lengthy discussion with the Sharks, the Springboks had made a decision to accept his request.
Steyn in turn said he enjoyed the Springbok environment and had a good relationship with the team and the management. "The environment in the Springbok squad is fantastic," he said, "and I would like to state categorically that my relationship with Heyneke Meyer, the rest of the management and my team-mates is very good."
SARU chief executive Jurie Roux said Steyn had asked for privacy and that the team management would not speculate on the reasons behind his decision to make himself unavailable or his likely return.
"This is not an ideal situation, but in other instances, sudden player absences through injury are not uncommon and I am sure that Heyneke and the selectors will adapt to his unavailability," said Roux. "Frans is now out of the squad and the team management will respect his wish for privacy by not speculating on his decision or his likely return."
Steyn had been playing with a chronic knee injury through the Super Rugby season and looked like a player in need of a rest both in the last few Super Rugby rounds and in the World XV game, however Roux would not shed any further light on Steyn's request.
"I have spoken at length to Frans and we are happy to accede to his request," said Roux. "He has asked for some time to consider his international playing future and we must respect that. Let me make it clear he has not retired from international rugby, but is taking a break from it."
The Springboks team will be announced on Wednesday, and apart from the inside-centre and possibly half-back positions, the side is likely to remain the same from last week's friendly international against a World XV at Newlands.
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