Steyn's World Cup stocks slump

by staff

Springboks coach Pieter de Villiers has all but ruled five-eighth Morne Steyn out of the Rugby World Cup after opting to start Patrick Lambie in the No.10 jersey in their 40-7 loss to New Zealand in Wellington.

Lambie had originally been named to start the Test at fullback but De Villiers had a change of heart on Thursday and switched the 20-year-old to the playmaker's role, and shifted Steyn to fullback.

The young Sharks star gave a sound performance in his Test debut, but Steyn struggled in his unfamiliar role in his 27th international.

He was caught out of position on a couple of occasions, missed a one-on-one tackle with Cory Jane for the All Blacks' third try and looked to kick rather than counter-attack when he got the ball in space.

De Villiers said after the match he changed the line-up in the hope of getting a different result from the 39-20 loss to Australia in Sydney.

"I don't think Pat went too bad. I think he brought a different dimension to the game and I'm more clear on who the No.10 should be," De Villiers said.

Francois Steyn and Butch James, who both did not travel with the team, are also in the World Cup frame.

De Villiers' team was lacking in experience after 21 players stayed at home to recover from injuries ahead of the World Cup.

He said their sights were now on the tournament to be held in New Zealand from September 9 after their second successive loss.

"Pretty much the Tri-Nations has gone for us. We'll move our focus to preparing for the World Cup," he said.

"The All Blacks are a formidable side. I think they are more ready now for the World Cup and deserve the tag of being the favourites."

De Villiers did not know how many of the 21 left at home would be available for South Africa's remaining Tri-Nations games in Durban and Port Elizabeth and would await medical tests next week, but warned against making wholesale changes to the side.

While captain John Smit had the satisfaction of scoring his side's only try and his first against the All Blacks, he lamented his side's frail defence.

"It is the biggest factor we've got to look at going back home. It is the thing that's let us down the most," he said after playing his 104th Test.

"We're gutted with the effort of the last two weeks. We'll try to pull as many positives as we can out of it. But at the end of the day it's disappointing."

New Zealand outscored the Springboks six tries to one, scoring three tries in each half and dominated the possession stakes.