Johannesburg – Morne Steyn, whose long-range penalty won the 2009 series for the Springboks over the British and Irish Lions, was praised for his “energy and wisdom” on Friday by current captain Siya Kolisi.
The 37-year-old was recalled by South Africa after four years for the three-Test series, which concludes on Saturday in Cape Town with each team having won once.
After watching the first two Tests from the stand, Steyn was among the eight replacements selected for the series decider, which will be played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Morne has so much energy, loves the game and remains a hungry competitor,” Kolisi said during an online news conference.
“He has been sharing a lot of knowledge with the guys, and helping prepare the team, and now he gets an opportunity to (possibly) play.
“I think his calming influence and cool head is something we need. You cannot buy experience and I think his wisdom is of huge value to the Springboks.”
Kolisi said that among the motivating factors for him and many of his teammates was that “for a whole lot of us this opportunity to win a series against the Lions will not come again”.
The first black Test skipper of the Springboks turned 30 two months ago and the Lions will not tour South Africa again until 2033.
“We have done a lot of off-field preparation, trained as hard as we can, and mentally I feel we are where we want to be.
“I know this is my only opportunity to be part of a winning series against the Lions, but we are all in a unique position and very excited ahead of the final Test.
“The biggest thing in our team is about controlling the controllables, and that is what we have been focused on.”
Kolisi said the eight-match tour had been extraordinary in many ways, starting with the Lions arriving in Johannesburg as the economic capital battled a deadly third wave of Covid-19.
Later, looting and arson in Johannesburg and Durban after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed for refusing to attend a graft inquiry led to more than 330 deaths.
“It has been a unique experience for both teams. We have all gone through a lot to be here, and in this regard it is been a huge honour to play in the series.
“We want to finish strongly and, hopefully, it will be a good game of rugby. All of us in the Springbok camp are very excited.
“Something we pride ourselves on is that if we are beaten fair and square then so be it. The best team must win on the day.
“This is our ‘final’ in every way, this is the game that matters and the one we want to remember more than anything else.”
South Africa hope to defy history on Saturday and become the first winners of a series between them and the Lions after losing the opening Test.
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