Boks dread the kicking blues
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer has yet to make a call on his first-choice goal-kicker, but he expects an 80 percent strike rate against the All Blacks.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has yet to make a call on who his first-choice goal-kicker will be, but he expects nothing less than an 80 percent strike rate against the All Blacks in Soweto on Saturday.
The poor goal-kicking, especially of Morné Steyn, has been a major discussion point this year and Meyer admitted it remains a concern - especially after Johan Goosen and Ruan Pienaar managed a poor 30 percent success rate between them against the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld last week.
In fact, in only two games this year did the Boks' success rate go above 50 percent - when Morné Steyn kicked 100 percent in the opening Rugby Championship Test against Argentina at Newlands and his 83 percent strike rate against Australia in Perth.
"Obviously it is a big concern," Meyer said, when asked about a season of kicking horrors.
"I don't want to put more pressure on the kickers because they really are kicking well in training," he said.
"If you look at the [internationals this] year, there is only two games [Tests] where we kicked more than 50 percent. At international level the guys kick 75 percent plus.
"We probably could have won seven out of eight if [Tests] if we kicked better."
Meyer said New Zealand are a quality outfit and if South Africa want to win at Soccer City on Saturday they will have to kick 80 percent plus.
"I am worried about that," the Bok mentor said, adding: "You can't outscore them by just scoring tries, you [also] have to kick your goals.
"If you put them under pressure you have to convert that into points. If they play with freedom and are not under pressure [on the scoreboard] they can punish you."
Meyer felt there are great kickers in the Bok team and it is just a matter of time before they click.
In their 31-8 victory over Australia last weekend, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar took over the kicking duties from flyhalf Johan Goosen, who missed his two attempts at goal after struggling with a heel injury.
"It was quite difficult for Ruan, because he didn't expect Johan Goosen to be injured. When you call on a guy who hasn't mentally prepare himself it is difficult.
"Hopefully Johan will be fine. They [the goal-kickers] have all been training well. Ruan also knows now that if Johan is not ready he will be the kicker and Jaco Taute is also an option.
"With Frans Steyn not being there we have lost two kickers ... with Morné [Steyn] out as well."
Meyer said he also has confidence in the other guys on the bench.
"Patrick Lambie is there and Elton Jantjies is also around.
"We do have options ... the question is just to get the right guy on the track to kick under pressure. Ruan is kicking more than 80 percent in training"."
Meyer said he still has to make a final call on who will be the first-choice goal-kicker on Saturday, as Goosen only started training on Wednesday - as a result of the heel injury that hampered him in Pretoria.
"Johan [Goosen] will kick at training [later on Wednesday] and we will make a call on that after training," Meyer said, adding: "He [Goosen] did not train on Monday and Tuesday.
"He came through the session quite well this [Wednesday] morning and will kick this afternoon - we will see how he goes and only make a decision after today."
He said that while goal-kicking was a concern, he was happy with the Bok rookie's general game.
"Johan played well last week. I was very happy with his [general] game, so hopefully he is fit and ready to kick.
"We do have Elton [Jantjies] and Pat [Lambie] as back-up [on the bench], so we'll take it minute-by-minute in the game."
He said Goosen's tactical kicking is also not a major concern.
"At Currie Cup and even Super Rugby level it is easier to kick. Although you face great players, you are not [always] facing the best players in the world [all in one team] in Test-match rugby.
"If you look at the back three of the All Blacks,. they are superb and read the game well - so it is more difficult to kick against those guys.
"Johan Goosen is only 20 years old - the only way he is going to learn is by doing it.
"It is a big learning curve for him," Meyer said, adding that they have done a lot of video work with the youngster.