THE Scotland Sevens squad has been a useful recruiting ground for Glasgow and Edinburgh in recent seasons, and Kyle Steyn hopes to be just the latest player to prove he can make the leap from the abbreviated code to the professional club game. Given he has already played at pro level in the Currie Cup back in South Africa, there should be little doubt that the Johannesburg-born 25-year-old can make it.
Although he has played more of his 15s rugby at centre, Steyn was billed as a winger when his one-year contract with the Warriors was announced this week, and given that DTH van der Merwe is out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, that latter position is probably where he will be most needed. Officially he remains a Sevens player for the rest of the current campaign, and he will only become a full Warriors squad member at the start of next season, but he is in contention for a place in the team to play Cardiff on Saturday and would jump at the chance if offered it.
“I’m raring to go,” he said. “I’m really excited for the opportunity that’s been given to me, and I can’t wait to get out there and carry on the legacy that’s been there before me. When it’s a club with a history as rich as this and with the position they’re in at the moment it’s a huge honour to sign for them, so I didn’t have to think twice [about signing].”
The surname is an indication of his South African background, but Steyn is Scottish-qualified. In fact, the relevant branch of his family lived within easy reach of Scotstoun – albeit long before the Warriors adopted the stadium as their home.
“My dad was born in South Africa,” he explained. “That’s where the surname Steyn comes from – it doesn’t sound very Scottish. My middle name’s Douglas after my grandad, who was born here, and my mum was born here as well.
“My grandad was an engineer and they moved over to South Africa and I was born there. He was from Bearsden, a local boy in Glasgow. My gran was born in Perth and then they met here in Glasgow, had my mum and her older sister, then moved to South Africa and her two younger sisters were born there. South Africa had a real shortage of engineers at the time, so he found a good opportunity and I think he wanted some sun.”
Steyn, conversely, is happy with the climate to which he has moved, and which is less harsh on his reddish hair and fair skin. “I’ve never been opposed to the cold – I’d probably choose cold weather over hot if I had to choose. The sun’s a bit harsh on my skin anyway and my hair shines a bit red in the sun.”
A job to do
After a brief involvement with the Scotland Sevens squad last year, Steyn returned to South Africa and captained the Griquas in the Currie Cup until October, when he came back here and joined the sevens for the rest of the season. Or at least that was the initial intention. However, the pro teams take precedence over the sevens squad in Scottish Rugby’s pecking order, and Glasgow believe that Steyn can do a job for them starting right now.
“Kyle will be involved with us this weekend in the squad,” Warriors assistant coach Kenny Murray said. “He’s been playing a bit of sevens and has been training with us during that time as well. He’s a good player and we’re excited to get him involved this week.
“Kyle was coming over to play sevens, but we were always looking to get him involved as quickly as possible. The way injuries have gone, it’s great for him that he can get in a bit earlier than we anticipated.
“Hopefully he’ll be involved with us for the rest of the season. He’s a good player, can play at 13 or on the wing, so I’m excited to watch him play.”
That versatility should come in useful, and Steyn himself admitted that it was hard to specify which would be his better position. “I played centre through most of my career, and winger has been a late thing that’s evolved,” he added. “I just chop and change. I don’t know if I know myself [which I prefer]. I like being involved a little bit more at centre. I think wing’s probably a little bit simpler. You just get the ball and run.”