Kicking guru Braam van Straaten says that the Springboks’ wayward tactical kicking is compromising their ability to win territory and control Test matches. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Boks beat France 29-26 last Saturday thanks to a last-gasp try by Bongi Mbonambi. Their overall performance, however – and their tactical kicking in particular – left a lot to be desired.
Van Straaten has observed the team closely in 2018. The former Bok flyhalf, who was renowned for his kicking during his playing days, feels that technical improvements have to be made sooner rather than later.
‘It really comes down to your technical ability,’ Van Straaten told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘If you are technically sound, you will be able to produce under pressure. If not, you go back to what you know and that is why we get inconsistencies from our players and our team when they are pressurised.
‘The more you kick, the more accurate you need to be to be able to put pressure on the opposition. You can win the ball back with a lot of contestable kicks. But at the moment, the accuracy and the technical ability of the players are not up to scratch,’ he explained.
‘Tactically, we know how to create the space, that’s one of the areas where I’ve seen improvement in. But technically, we are unable to find that space through our kicking because the kicking is inaccurate.
‘There are definitely opportunities to play territorially, but that comes down to being accurate and putting teams under pressure. It all comes down to the technical understanding, the understanding of movement, and how to get the ball to travel exactly where you aim. Our players need to learn that.’
Van Straaten also feels that Handré Pollard, the Boks’ first-choice flyhalf, has room for improvement. Against England at Twickenham, Pollard missed two out of four attempts at goal. Against France in Paris, however, he converted seven out of seven kicks.
Van Straaten says that unless he improves the flaws in his kicking technique and gains a better understanding of the technical side of kicking, he will continue to blow hot and cold in future.
‘Handré has got one or two technical issues and I think it might be because he doesn’t understand the technical part of kicking. As I said, if he was technically sound, he’d be able to kick on that same level every week.
‘Coming from a technical background, I can safely say that at the moment there are issues with his kicking and that is why one week he’ll be really good, because his bio-rhythms are up, and the next he will struggle.’
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