Springbok flyhalf legend Morne Steyn has officially retired from international rugby.
Steyn, who came on against the British and Irish Lions in the third test to win the series for the Springboks earlier this year, made the decision after returning home from the Castle Lager Rugby Championship two weeks ago.
He informed the Springbok management that he wanted to spend more time with his family and therefore would not be available for the November tour of the United Kingdom with the Boks.
Steyn, who turned 37 during the Lions series, will however still play for the Vodacom Bulls, and is currently in negotiations about a possible contract extension, as his contract ends in June 2022.
The move isn’t surprising as Steyn returned home after playing in France for several years to see out the twilight of his career at the Bulls, and didn’t return initially to play Springbok rugby again.
But his form in the local competitions during the pandemic was such that the Bok selectors couldn’t ignore him, and he was included in the Bok squad ahead of the Lions series.
Steyn told Supersport.com exclusively that he decided to call it a day at test level because he wanted to spend more time at home with the family.
His time with the Boks from the Lions series until their return last week meant he was one of the players that spent 18 weeks in bio-bubbles that took their toll on the players as they had to first quarantine in South Africa and then a hard 14-day quarantine in Australia.
“It’s a good time to make this decision,” Steyn said, “I think it’s time to call it a day now.
“I’ve had a lot of time to think about thinks and it has been difficult over the last few months being away from home with touring and being away from my kids.”
Steyn said he had discussed the decision with Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and he understood why he was making himself unavailable for the November tour.
“I told Jacques I won’t be available for the end of year tour. It has been difficult for me being away from my family for the past 17/18 weeks and I want to spend more time with them.”
When Steyn returned to South Africa he said one of his primary reasons was to put his children into a local school and spend more time at home, rather than away on rugby tours.
Steyn has also been seen as the back-up to Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies on the recent Rugby Championship trip and that also played a part in his decision.
“I said to Jacques that I haven’t been the No 1 choice for a while now, and it doesn’t make sense to wait for injuries for a chance to play. I have a year or two left in my career and I’d rather spend it playing for the Bulls than sitting on the sidelines. I really want to enjoy my last two years of rugby.”
The Springboks will announce their side later on Tuesday, but Steyn’s focus now will turn to the Bulls, where he will be needed since the injury to Johan Goosen against Cardiff.
Still, it has been a remarkable comeback for the Springbok, who holds several Bok records and his penalty kick against the Lions completed an amazing feat of repeating a series winning kick against the Lions 12 years apart after he kicked the winning kick at Loftus Versfeld in 2009 and in 2021 in Cape Town.