VIDEO: The harsh 'realities' facing the Boks
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber this week dished out a healthy dosage of stark reality to those in the media and amongst the fans who are harping about goalkicking being the team’s biggest problem.
Nienaber, addressing a media briefing after naming his team to play Tonga in a #MustWin World Cup Pool B match in Marseille on Sunday, said the Springboks have far bigger issues than just goalkicking.
He admitted that missed kicks at goal will stick in people’s minds, but suggest far bigger problems are being overlooked.
“In the game against Ireland, we had four opportunities within one metre of their goalline which we butchered,” he said of the 8-13 loss to the men from the Emerald Isle in Paris last Saturday.
“That, for me, is a much bigger issue that we have to sort out.
“You can’t get yourself within one metre of Ireland’s tryline and butcher four opportunities.”
He said there is a lot of ‘noise’ out there about flyhalf Manie Libbok’s erratic goalkicking, but people don’t have all the facts.
Nienaber said his team faces three ‘realities’.
(WATCH as Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber speaks about the ongoing flyhalf and goalkicking debate and dishes out a healthy dosage of reality to grumpy fans...)
“They [the realities] must be seen as a unit – not separately,” the Bok coach said.
“Everyone can see we are not as consistent off the kicking T as we can be,” he said of a declining goal-kicking success rate – which started off at a mid-70 percent and has dramatically plunged, with the exception of the 100 percent in a warm-up match against New Zealand, to the shocking 20 percent in the loss to Ireland last week.
“In some games, we kicked 100 percent,” he said – using the end-of-year Test against France last November, when they used three different kickers and all their kicks at goal were successful.
“Some games we’ll kick 100 percent, some we’ll kick 80 percent and some we’ll kick less than 50 percent.
“That is the first reality.”
He admitted that Pollard is the most consistent kicker for the Boks, but hasn’t played for the national team since August 22..
“The third reality is, that the guys who stepped up and take over the No.10 role were Damian Willemse and Manie Libbok.
“In that 13 months that Handre [Pollard] wasn’t available for the Springboks, there were 16 test matches and we won 75 percent of those.
“We lost four, and of the four test matches we lost, two were against Ireland – who i the No.1 team in the world and everybody is struggling against them.
“They haven’t lost a test match since the one against New Zealand in Auckland [in July last year].
“Then we lost to New Zealand in Auckland this year.
“The other Test match that we lost where those two guys were steering the Springboks and driving the team in the No.10 jersey, was against France in Marseille [in November last year] where we got the red card.
“In three of those Test matches it was very close, even this past one [the 8-13 loss to Ireland this past Sunday], up to the 78th minute there were two points in it.
“Those are the realities.
“Yes, we are not consistent off the tee.
“Handre [Pollard was injured and he was the most consistent.
“But the guys that stepped in, I don’t think they did a bad job.
“Maybe, off the kicking T.
“However, in terms of win percentage, steering the team and getting good results.
“Out of those 16 Test matches, only three was at home, with 13 away from home.
“The who goalkicking issue, the flyhalf debate that has been built up, the people out there, the fans, must realise it is not a simple thing such as just goalkicking.
“It is much more complex.
“People must know the whole truth, not just drive a specific narrative.
“You must look at it like we look at it and that is the reality.
* Picture credit: Steve Haag Sports