A spectacular 50:22 kick in front of 41 thousand plus at Loftus Versfeld was a reminder of the magic that Morné Steyn has produced so many times before, and when called upon continues to produce at the age of 38.
A near-capacity Loftus crowd has been less melting pot and more playground for Morné Steyn throughout his career, and last Saturday’s Vodacom URC clash against the DHL Stormers was no different.
Despite not starting, Steyn’s presence was felt on what was his 150th game for the Vodacom Bulls, between Super Rugby and the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
Steyn, fittingly, led the team out onto the field before taking up his spot on the bench, and when he was brought on to a trailing scoreline his response was the perfect 50:22 kick and a vintage Steyn touchline conversion.
Morné Steyn’s career has been one characterised by consistency, and former Springbok and Vodacom Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer – who managed Steyn for many years – described him back in 2012 as “a warrior” and, nearly a decade later said that Steyn was a “freak of nature” who had “only ever missed four or five training sessions” in his time under Meyer.
Meyer’s comments in 2021 were made in support of his selection for the British & Irish Lions series, and Steyn would prove to be the deciding player, winning the Springboks the final Test and the series by kicking two late penalties, as he had done 12 years before, in their 2009 series win.
The flyhalf, quite remarkably, began his career at the Vodacom Bulls back in 2003. As much as Steyn’s career has been one marked by consistency, it has been one of incredible loyalty.
In his 20 years, Steyn has only ever played for the Vodacom Bulls in South Africa – making 75 Currie Cup appearances and, as of last weekend, playing 150 games between Super Ruby and the Vodacom URC. Playing abroad, Steyn amassed 135 appearances for Paris’s Stade Francais, and never looked elsewhere in Europe before returning to South Africa.
Steyn, nearing 40, shows no sign of a shift in motivation or quality, and back home in Pretoria he continues to be both an inspiration to the youth and a play-making, goal-kicking insurance policy to Jake White’s side.
Steyn, who between the Vodacom Bulls, Springboks and Stade Francais has played 432 professional matches, did not need to start on his 150th franchise game to be honoured as one of the finest.
In fact, he does not need to do anything to further justify his name in the history books. But in a uniquely Morné Steyn manner, his cameo in the last quarter of the match against the DHL Stormers was reminiscent of everything that has made his career spectacular in performance and in longevity, and never forget that he also scored 31 points in a Test against the All Blacks.
It is only fitting that he plays out his career at the Vodacom Bulls, just as it was only appropriate that a record Vodacom URC crowd in South Africa turned up to celebrate his 150th match milestone.