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Freddie Steward playing without fear after heeding advice of Farrell and Itoje

“They told me ‘Don’t be scared of that sort of occasion. Don’t let it get to you and don’t play with fear’. They said it’s about playing with freedom, enjoying every minute”

Steward (second left) has Boks considering a change of attacking strategy due to his high ball dependability

Fearless Freddie Steward has South Africa on high ball alert after heeding the advice of Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje not to play scared.

The 20-year-old fullback was man of the match against Australia in the biggest game of his life last Saturday, dominating the skies with his 6’5 frame.

“Very impressed,” Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber admitted. “He’s really good under the high ball.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for us. We might have to look at how we apply our pressure game.”

That is some compliment from South Africa to a youngster who watched the last meeting between the sides in a student bar and was left “devastated” by England’s World Cup final defeat.

And last night Steward revealed the single piece of advice that had launched his Test career skywards.

“To play without fear,” he said.



Steward (left) is mobbed after scoring his first England try against Australia
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Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)




“I spoke to some of the older lads, Faz and Maro and Joe Marler, and asked them what it’s like to play in front of 80,000.

“They said: ‘Don’t be scared of that sort of occasion. Don’t let it get to you and don’t play with fear’. They said it’s about playing with freedom, enjoying every minute.

“South Africa are a team who employ that contestable kick tactic very often. That’s definitely a challenge for me but also one to be excited about. I love going to the air and catching the high ball.”



South Africa boss Jacques Nienaber “very impressed” with Steward
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Getty Images)




The Boks recall fly-half Handre Pollard, who scored 22 points in the World Cup final, alongside ex-Northampton scrum-half Cobus Reinach.

Sale lock Lood de Jager also comes in to a side looking to add the scalp of England to those of Wales and Scotland.

Nienaber says he does not know whether Eddie Jones will use the memory of the World Cup to fuel a backlash.

“From our perspective that is so long ago,” he said. “It’s water under the bridge. You can’t live in that moment. You need to move on.

“We definitely have. Even from the Lions series. It’s all about new focus and new objectives, working towards 2023. But what Eddie is telling his players I don’t know.”

Marcus Smith wants to sharpen his skills by training with rugby league.



Marcus Smith evades a tackle in England’s win over Australia
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Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)




The Harlequins star is set to lead England’s attack against world champions South Africa on Saturday.

But so keen is he to keep developing his game that he has contacted Sean Long about training with Leeds Rhinos.

The fly-half texted Long, for 15 months his attack coach at Quins and now assistant coach at Headingley.



Leeds Rhinos assistant coach Sean Long
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Phil Daly/Leeds Rhinos/SWpix.com)




“He asked if he could come and train with us and I said of course he can,” Long told the Yorkshire Post.

“It’s not that he wants to change codes or anything; he just wants to look at the challenges of rugby league compared to rugby union as he is always wanting to improve.

“He is an outstanding player but what I like about him is he’s not finished yet; he’s wanting to learn and learn and learn.”

South Africa: W le Roux; J Kriel, L Am, D de Allende, M Mapimpi; H Pollard, C Reinach; O Nche, B Mbonambi, T Nyakane; E Etzebeth, L de Jager; S Kolisi (capt), K Smith, D Vermeulen.

Reps: M Marx, S Kitshoff, V Koch, F Mostert, J Wiese, H Jantjies, E Jantjies, F Steyn.




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