How Bok legend Steyn will develop next generation of kickers
NEWS: As Morné Steyn prepares to wind down his playing career, the Springbok and Bulls legend is already thinking of the future with the launch of his new kicking academy.
The star is set to pass on his skills as one of the greatest kickers in the history of the game.
“It’s been an idea of mine for quite some time now. The idea was specifically to help children at a school rugby level improve their goalkicking because I believe there is a big need here,” Steyn revealed to the Bulls official website.
“I feel we need to start developing kickers at an earlier level. At the school level there aren’t always teachers who played that position or who can teach kicking to help the kids. So I feel I can make a difference here and I’d like to give back to the game in this way.”
The darling of Loftus Versfeld may also still have a role to play with the Bulls going forward as their kicking coach, and has identified what he says is the increasingly important role kicking plays in the modern game and specifically the United Rugby Championship.
“I am in talks to remain involved at the Bulls, specifically as a kicking coach. I’ve often seen with teams that when it gets difficult in matches, you can always see a correlation with the kicking game not being up to scratch.
“In the United Rugby Championship, and generally in the game at the highest level, the kicking game has become increasingly important. Your counterattack is built on a strong kicking game. If your kicking game is weak or your aerial skills are weak you cannot put the other team under pressure. The teams are all getting better and better at this aspect of the game.”
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Journey to Bok flyhalf
Steyn says his own journey as someone he’d describe as a “50-60% quality kicker” when he started out, to becoming the man who with his right boot sealed two series victories for the Springboks against the British and Irish Lions inspired him to launch the MS10 academy.
“I look at my own school career where I just taught myself to kick.
“My good friend Ruan Pienaar’s dad, Gysie, gave us a few tips and helped us. But generally it was a case of me and Ruan taking a few balls and kicking to each other. I did the same with my brothers. I kind of grew up on the side of the rugby field with my dad who coached, and I taught myself how to kick. There wasn’t actual coaching for me. It was really just a case of the more you do something the better you become at it.
“At school I kicked for my team purely because there wasn’t anybody else. At Craven Week level other players kicked. But when I arrived at the Bulls in my under-20 year, coach Heyneke Meyer told me that if I wanted to play at a high level I would have to work harder on my kicking. That’s when it really dawned on me what working hard in this game really means. I put in hours trying to improve my kicking, with the help of the then kicking coach Vlok Cilliers. Through that process I realised just how much you need to sacrifice and how much hard work you need to put in if you want to get to the top in this game.”
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And that remains his message to this day, to any young aspiring kickers.
“You obviously need to have that natural ball sense to a degree. But I’m the perfect example of what hard work can achieve. I would’ve rated myself as a 50-60 percent quality kicker before I started really working on improving this area of my game and becoming a 80-90% quality kicker. Through hard work and drills you can definitely improve your kicking.
“It takes a lot of sacrifices and hard work to become a good kicker. You need that desire and perseverance. You know, after a fitness session when the rest of the team has gone home or to the showers, you’re still out there for at least another hour working on your kicking. Hard work and sacrifice are the only way to get better.”
Steyn is also adamant that players develop their own kicking style and don’t try and mimic the style of others.
“I taught myself my own kicking style. It’s a very relaxed and uncomplicated style and it has always worked for me because I stuck to it. It’s become second nature for me,” Steyn said.
“I always tell young rugby players to find a style that is comfortable for them. It doesn’t help to want to try and kick like me or Jonny Wilkinson or Dan Carter. You must find a style that suits you, and then you work at it until it becomes second nature.
“So when it comes to that moment to put over a kick to win a game, you go back to what you’ve been doing for hours on the practice field. You go back to that same process and routine, and it’s those small things that you focus on when you come to some of the biggest kicks of your career.”