Not even Morne Steyn’s favourite boots could help the Bulls conquer the Crusaders in the first of the Super XV playoffs last weekend, with the champion first-five turning in one of the most under-whelming performances of his career as his side failed to fire and slumped to a 28-13 loss in Christchurch.
While Steyn had sported Nike’s Mercurial Vapor VIII FG Pro boots during South Africa’s three-test series against the touring English in June, he reverted back to the Mercurial Vapor Superfly III SG for his sides’ knockout match at AMI stadium, but as it turned out his uncharacteristically wayward tactical kicking was to be a major talking point as the Bulls’ season stuttered to an end.
While both boots were conceived with speed in mind, it is the Vapro VIII’s that Steyn wore in the test-match arena which come in as the real lightweights, with a size 9 tipping the scales at just 200g. (the Superfly III comes in at 210g).
Nike designed both boots to fit the foot like a second skin, and utilised ultra-thin Teijin synthetic leather to ensure they would adjust to the natural shape of the wearers foot. Never one to shy away from attention, Steyn obviously likes boots which also make a bold statement, with the Superfly’s coming in a Red-Plum colourway with ‘Voltage-Yellow’ highlights.
The Bulls had enjoyed success throughout their season by playing to their strengths, which included a brutally physical forward pack and the ever-astute tactical kicking game of Steyn. But whether the trip from Pretoria to Christchurch was simply too arduous or the idea of beating the imposing Crusaders at home in a knockout game too daunting, the Bulls suffered stage-fright when it really mattered, and never really looked like challenging for a place in the semi-finals.