Cape Town – He hails from a presently drought-stricken region of the Eastern Cape.
But there was nothing arid about Braam Steyn’s performance in Italy’s eye-opening 48-7 World Cup Pool B disposal of Canada, ensuring that the Azzurri ended their first two rounds of matches – admittedly with the might of both South Africa and New Zealand to follow against them – with a full house of 10 log points.
The 27-year-old, in his 35th appearance for his adopted country, dished up perhaps one of the most punishing ball-in-hand performances of the tournament so far as the Canadians were destroyed by seven tries to one – not too dissimilar, frankly, to the more recent 9-0 superiority enjoyed in that department by the All Blacks against them (63-0 score-line).
Clearly more than happy to take earthy “route one” in his approach, Steyn’s showing included a memorable dot-down of his own: one of those efforts where you smash back a bunch of defenders like some comic-book superhero flattening villains en route to justice for all good souls.
The 111kg former Paul Roos schoolboy, nowadays based with Benetton, is more accustomed to the flank berth – his previous six starts for Italy had all been on side of the scrum – but was deputising, with notable vigour, for the great Sergio Parisse at eighth-man against Canada.
Italy’s immensely seasoned, 141-cap regular captain sat out the Canada encounter entirely, an intelligent move to ensure the maximum freshness of the 36-year-old gladiator for the two “biggies” at the end of pool play.
But now the Italians field them together again, their natural relish for collisional aspects likely to be a key part of the plan to upset the Boks for a second time in history in Shizuoka on Friday (11:45 SA time).
Steyn has had it both sweet and sour, really, in his own record against the land of his birth, as he could claim at least a partial role in the momentous 2016 maiden triumph (20-18) in Florence: he came off the bench for the pivotal last quarter then.
But then he was also a starter just over a year later when the Boks – this time taking a far more assertive physical approach in virtually all areas of the forward battle – earned emphatic revenge with a 35-6 win in Padova.
That the likes of Parisse and Steyn couldn’t get on the front foot to nearly the extent they would have wished that day, was due in no small dose to South Africa increasingly recognising the potential of Pieter-Steph du Toit – give much-maligned Allister Coetzee some credit – as a blindside flank.
Whereas he had played as the No 4 lock in the Florence shocker, Du Toit was stationed at No 7 in the follow-up crunch.
He was also, just as significantly, joined in the loosie alliance by the famously no-nonsense Duane Vermeulen at No 8 (the more run-around Warren Whiteley had operated there in the 2016 defeat) and their desire to “front up” at close quarters helped pave the way for the easily redeeming outcome.
Considering the auspicious reputation of Parisse and the current, assertive form of Steyn, it will come as significant comfort to slightly nervy Bok supporters that hallowed iron-men Vermeulen and Du Toit, respectively, will be their direct foes again on Friday.
Apart from their two Test-level meetings, Du Toit has some further knowledge of Steyn through their joint-involvement in the SA squad who won the then IRB Junior World Championship in 2012, when the latter was still locally-based and on the payroll of the Sharks.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn
15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 Michele Campagnaro, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Braam Steyn, 5 Dean Budd, 4 David Sisi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Substitutes: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Alessandro Zanni, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Sebastian Negri, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Carlo Canna
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Article source: https://www.sport24.co.za/Rugby/RugbyWorldCup2019/boks-must-repel-italys-cradock-firecracker-20191003