The Toyota Cheetahs coach, Hawies Fourie, has welcomed the signing of the two-time World Cup-winning Springbok backline player, Frans Steyn, on a two-year contract.
Steyn will not be renewing his stay at Montpellier in France, and he will be linking up with the Cheetahs as from 1 July.
Turning 33 years old next month, Steyn has been linked with the Cheetahs for close to two years, however, due to his contract in France, it would have been financially taxing to secure his release earlier.
Raised in the Free State, Steyn only played junior rugby in the province, and as a schoolboy at Grey College in Bloemfontein he was contracted by the Sharks. He also played for Racing 92 in France as well as Toshiba Brave Lupus in Japan.
The Cheetahs will have a squad limited to just 35 players for the coming season, which means a cut of ten players. Cheetahs coach, Fourie, told OFM Sport it is important to ensure the players in that reduced squad are quality players.
“We are really excited about having Frans Steyn at the Cheetahs. We spent quite a few months on the recruitment process and we can confirm that he has signed with us from the 1st of July for two-years.
“Frans will make a big difference to our team. He has got all the experience. He won two world cups, he has played a lot of Super Rugby games, Top14 games, and has 67 Tests to his name.
“It will be valuable for our squad to tap into his experience and use his skill set. He is versatile and can play any position in the backline, from 10 to 15. We see him as a guy who can play fly-half or inside centre, and that is where we will use him.
“Going forward, for me it is important to recruit a strong squad. With the budget we’ve got we will only be able to sign about 35 players as opposed to the 45 players over the past year or two. It’s important to get quality in that squad of 35. If you look back at the history of the Cheetahs, in 2013, when we qualified for the quarter-finals of the Super Rugby, we had seven Springboks in that team, and the same happened when the Cheetahs made the play-offs in Pro Rugby; there were also seven or eight Springboks in that team.
“That is my goal, to help the current players in the team to become Springboks and surround them with guys who have the experience.”
While Steyn is set to farm full time after he concludes his illustrious career, Fourie added that the player is on a mission and wants to play against the British & Irish Lions for a second time in his career before hanging up his boots.
“A guy like Frans wants to play against the British & Irish Lions next year, so he is not coming back to Bloem to retire.
He is on a mission; he wants to play in those Tests against the Lions. He will be in good shape, and he will be working hard. We are looking forward to Frans joining the squad and contributing to the success we want to achieve.”
Steyn played against the Lions in 2009, along with the Cheetahs captain, Ruan Pienaar. The pair also won the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, and apart from being Springbok teammates, they played together at the Sharks and at Montpellier. – MORGAN PIEK