Morne Steyn during the third Castle Lager Incoming Tour Test match between South Africa and England at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on June 23, 2012 in Port Elizabeth. (Steve Haag, Gallo Images)
Leading 2011 Rugby World Cup points scorer Steyn missed 12 of 22 kicks at goal and several drop goal attempts during a 2-0 series victory over England with the third Test drawn 14-14 Saturday in Port Elizabeth.
Usually the darling of South African crowds, the 29-year-old Bulls player was booed by some spectators at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium after a second-half drop goal effort drifted wide.
Steyn gave a virtuoso performance at the same ground last year before the World Cup, kicking all 18 points in a Tri-Nations win against the All Blacks.
In the endless public and media debate about who among Steyn, Patrick Lambie, Peter Grant, Johan Goosen and Elton Jantjies should wear the No 10 green and gold shirt, the superb goal kicking of the Bulls star has settled many arguments.
But as the ability to constantly plant the ball between the posts from all angles and distances deserts Steyn, Meyer is hoping a return to Super 15 action from next weekend will help the first-choice pivot recover his form.
“Morne is a worry at the moment as we know he is not playing well,” admitted Meyer, “but I thought he played well in the previous two games, it was just his kicking that was off.
“He has high standards and will come back stronger with at least three Super games to get himself right and he knows we need him in the Rugby Championship. I have a lot of confidence in him although he is not striking the ball well now.”
Meyer, who coached the Pretoria-based Bulls to Super 14 and Currie Cup glory before succeeding Peter de Villiers as Springboks coach this year, said he opted not to replace Steyn with Jantjies in Port Elizabeth because of inexperience.
“I did not make that move because there was a lack of experience on the field as the match approached the closing stages,” he said of his decision to leave the young Golden Lions flyhalf on the bench.
Meyer admitted England were the better team in the dead rubber as they ended a run of nine consecutive losses against South Africa, including defeats in Durban (22-17) and Johannesburg (36-27) this month.
“All credit to England as they were the better team on the night. They adapted much better than us to the wet, windy conditions and probed once or twice behind us and defended for their lives.”
England coach Stuart Lancaster, another post-World Cup appointment as Martin Johnson quit after a disappointing campaign, said he was “gutted” not to win in Port Elizabeth.
“We wanted to win the game and the series.
We failed, but there are plenty of positives to take as well. When you look at where we were and where we are now, I think we are in a good place,” he stressed.
“Go back six months and we lost a huge amount of experience out of this England side. When you take out Jonny Wilkinson, Simon Shaw, Mike Tindall and Lewis Moody – it takes time to rebuild.
“When Owen Farrell came on for Toby Flood we had under-21 players wearing the No 10, 12 and 13 shirts. We have young lads making debuts and I thought Alex Goode was outstanding at full-back.”
Formerly known as the Tri-Nations, the Rugby Championship features world champions New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and debutants Argentina with the six-round series running from mid-August to early October. – Sapa-AFP