Prodigious Francois Steyn burst onto the international scene when he debuted for South Africa in the Springbok centenary match against Ireland at Lansdowne Road on November 11, 2006. The 19-year-old started on the left wing and scored a try in the 15-32 loss.
The multitalented youngster was named at fullback the following week for the match against England where he slotted a brilliant long-range drop goal from inside his own half. The Boks succumbed 23-21 despite having a healthy lead for most of the match but Steyn wouldn’t have to wait much longer for his first taste of victory in the Green and Gold as the Boks secured a rare win over England at Twickenham the following week.
At this early stage of Steyn’s career, he has won 36 Tests and has scored 86 points. Coaches have had conflicting views as to which position suits Steyn best, and this is evident with his Springbok career as he has started at centre (14), fullback (14), flyhalf (5) and wing (3).
Steyn came off the bench in the opening match of the 2007 Tri-Nations and slotted two late long-range drop goals which won the game for South Africa in thrilling fashion. He was subsequently selected in the World Cup squad as a super sub but was elevated into the starting line-up after first choice inside centre Jean de Villiers suffered a torn biceps in the first game against Samoa which ruled him out for the remainder of the competition.
Steyn thrived in the No 12 jersey and ultimately scored a try and kicked four penalties in the competition, most significantly slotting a crucial long-range penalty in the final against England that gave South Africa a nine-point cushion. In doing so, Steyn made history by becoming the youngest ever player to win a World Cup.
He played in all three Tests of the 2009 British & Irish Lions series and kicked a penalty in each of the first two matches to help South Africa record a historic series win. The 22-year-old also featured prominently in the Springboks’ Tri-Nations winning campaign later in the year when he slotted five penalties in the series including a 60m effort against New Zealand in Hamilton, earning himself the nickname “Rocket Launcher”.
Records/Honours:SA Under-19 Player of the Year, 2006Member of the World Cup winning Springbok squad, 2007Youngest ever player to win a World CupSasol Most Promising Player of the Year, 2007Currie Cup winner with the Sharks, 2008British & Irish Lions series winner, 2009Tri-Nations winner, 2009IRB Player of the Year nominee, 2009