Now though, with Hougaard having followed 2007 Super 14-winning coach Heyneke Meyer to Leicester Tigers, Steyn feels he is finally able to step out of his former team-mate's shadow.
Steyn has been in impressive form so far this season for a Blue Bulls side who currently sit second in the Currie Cup standings and he admits that a chance to perform in national colours ahead of next year's Lions tour is his ultimate goal.
"There is no doubt that every player's goal is to play for the Boks and it remains a huge honour to play for your country," Steyn, a former international at U-21 level told Rugby365.com.
'I am ready to make the step up.'
Steyn admits that his confidence has taken a huge boost since Hougaard's departure, while the amount of additional work he is putting into his game is geared towards earning the right to wear a Springbok shirt.
"For my confidence it is important to know that I will start every game. Now I can enjoy my game and don't have to worry if I will play or won't play.
"I work very hard on my tactical kicking and I feel I am on the same level now that Derick was.
"I am still working hard at it to get it to a level where I can maybe get into the Bok team - if there is one aspect where I may have been below standard, it is my tactical game, and I've worked on that to get it to a standard where I am of international quality. Hopefully, soon I will be able to wear the Green and Gold."
Butch James was the Boks' first-choice outside-half during this year's Tri Nations, while Peter Grant and utility back Ruan Pienaar, along with the Sharks' Francois Steyn, were mooted as possible replacements for the Bath No10.