Veteran Springboks and Cheetahs utility back Francois Steyn’s hopes of featuring at a fourth Rugby World Cup is in the balance after it was revealed that the knee injury which he sustained is more serious than initially thought.
Steyn underwent surgery last week after sustaining the injury in the Cheetahs’ 32-7 Currie Cup victory over the Bulls in Bloemfontein on March 24.
Set for substantial period on the sidelines
Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie said he expects the 35-year-old to be sidelined for a substantial period of time.
“He’ll be out for about two to three months,” Fourie told Sport24.
“Frans had a scope on his knee, and the prognosis was worse than the doctor initially thought. It will be a substantial period on the sidelines. Our medical team believes it will be for most of the Currie Cup anyway.”
With the Currie Cup concluding in June, it means Steyn‘s expected return after his recovery leaves him with no window period for crucial game-time needed to impress the Springbok coaching staff about his suitability and fitness ahead of the World Cup in France.
Steyn’s injury is a massive setback as he has worked on his conditioning, and he was in superb form in the Currie Cup.
“It’s a bit of a blow to his hopes, he really wanted to go for the World Cup,” said Fourie.
“He’s worked really hard since the start of the year after his previous injury, [and] dropped quite a bit of weight. It’s a big setback for him, hopefully he’ll recover soon and maybe there’s still a bit of a door open for him, but we don’t have contact with the Bok coaches currently.
“We’ll see how it goes, but he needs to recover and get on the field again first.”
Cheetahs hopeful of more action
Steyn will have few opportunities to stake his claim for a World Cup spot with the Boks as the Cheetahs don’t have many fixtures lined up after the Currie Cup’s conclusion.
The Springboks kick off a bumper 2023 season against Australia in Pretoria on Saturday, 8 July, in the opening round of the shortened Rugby Championship, and their last match in that tournament is against Argentina in Johannesburg on Saturday, July 29.
Meanwhile, Steyn’s only chance of being in action is with the Cheetahs, who are hopeful of playing matches against Australian Super Rugby Pacific outfit the Western Force.
“We’re not sure. We obviously try to have a few fixtures in the pipeline like the Toyota Challenge, and there’s a plan to play against the Force home and away, but it’s not finalised yet,” said Fourie.
“It’s my hope we can nail those fixtures down to allow him to play in them. But, at the earliest, those games would take place in August.”