Appointing Cheslin Kolbe as the Springboks’ primary goal-kicker this week was a “cop out … based on a blatant lie” by coach Jacques Nienaber, according to MARK KEOHANE.
Missed shots at goal saw the Boks leave seven points on the field in Dublin last week as first Damian Willemse and then Kolbe were entrusted with the kicking tee.
After naming the lineup to face France in Marseille on Saturday, Nienaber announced that Kolbe will be the go-to goal-kicker based on his comfortability with the duties at club level.
In his TIMESLive column, Keohane called the move a “cop out” from Nienaber, comparing Kolbe and Willemse’s kicking stats to make his case.
“Willemse can do everything, on attack and in defence. But somewhere along the line since he turned professional, perception has turned to fact and the consensus is that Willemse is not a goal-kicker,” Keohane writes.
“Kolbe in 217 first-class matches has kicked three penalties, one drop goal and 11 conversions. He kicked no points in 46 matches for Western Province. He kicked no points for Toulon in 17 matches. He kicked just two penalties and four conversions from the tee in 82 matches for Toulouse and his most prolific season was seven conversions for the Stormers in 2017 – the only season in which he kicked for goal in 49 matches.
“Willemse offers so much variation and dimension at No 10 for the Springboks that, win or bust for now, the kicking tee should have been his for the 80 minutes against France and not Kolbe’s because if the perception – created by Nienaber – is that Kolbe is used to it, the reality is that Willemse is a lot more used to it.
“Willemse, in a career of 100-plus matches less, has kicked 60 conversions, two drop goals and 39 penalties. It would have sent a message from the coaches to Willemse … that he is the future for the Boks at No 10 but to be that future he needs to be the goalkicker.
“Instead, it was a cop out from the national coach based on a blatant lie about Kolbe’s first-class goalkicking record.”
Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) November 10, 2022