Back off the Goose

Wed, 06 Mar 2013 09:20
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Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské is backing young Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen to bounce back to his best soon.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské is backing young Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen to bounce back to his best soon.

Goosen, who missed the Cheetahs' pre-season matches after recovering from knee and heel injuries, has struggled with his goal-kicking in the opening matches of their Super Rugby campaign.

He kicked a miserable 50 percent (two from three conversions and one from three penalties) in the Cheetahs' 22-29 loss to the Sharks in their opening match and an even more damnable 25 percent (one from four penalties) in the 3-45 loss to the Cheetahs.

Drotské, speaking to this website in an exclusive interview from the team's training base in the holiday resort of Queenstown on the New Zealand South Island, dismissed the notion that the 20-year-old pivot's poor goal-king can be attributed to any lingering injury issues.

"The heel is 100 percent," Drotské said, adding: "He just lacks self confidence.

"If he can just get that self-belief back, maybe start with one or two easier kicks.

"He is a classy player and I am confident he will be able to bounce back."

Goosen, who played the first of his four Tests for the Boks against Australia in September last year, had a succession of injuries in 2012.

It started with a shoulder injury sustained in a Super Rugby match against the Highlanders. At the time of his injury, Goosen was the leading points scorer in his debut season of Super Rugby - with 145 points from nine games. The total included three tries, 17 conversions, 31 penalties and a drop-goal.

He returned for the Cheetahs in the Currie Cup competition and was drafted almost immediately into the Bok team for the Rugby Championship encounter with the Wallabies. However, he had some discomfort from a heel injury and then unfortunately suffered a knee injury in the encounter with the All Blacks in Soweto.

While he was rested in the pre-season, when the heel problem flared up again, Goosen started in the encounter with the Sharks.

Drotské said with all the injury problems a thing of the past, Goosen just has to work his way back to his best form.

"The fact that he hasn't played for a long timer is a factor," Drotské said of the injury setbacks that have sidelined the Bok pivot since October last year.

The Cheetahs coach said he was very happy with the rest of Goosen's game.

"He attacked the line well, his defence was fine, his tactical kicks were good and it is just a matter of getting his goal-kicking up to par," Drotské told this website.

* Meanwhile the Cheetahs mentor said the team chatted about avoiding a repeat of the mistakes that cost them so dearly against the Chiefs, when they face the Highlanders in Invercargill on Saturday.

"The first half we played all the rugby, but did not use our opportunities," he said of the 3-45 loss in Hamilton - which saw the defending champions score five second-half tries, after leading just 11-3 at the break.

"Three or four kicks at goal, which we missed and a few tries that were on, which we also did not finish off," Drotské said, adding: "Then that try, just after half-time, that we gifted them - when Goosen kicked into the guy. That was a very soft score.

"To then try and fight back from 3-17 down meant we had to play high risk rugby and that resulted in a higher error count."

By Jan de Koning

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