Don’t kick the ball away – Meyer

Date published: July 23 2015

Springbok head coach Heyneke Meyer has highlighted the need for his team to improve their tactical kicking ahead of this weekend's Rugby Championship clash with the All Blacks.

One of the major reasons behind South Africa's narrow loss to Australia in Brisbane last week was the amount of possession and momentum handed to the Wallabies by poor kicking.

Wallaby full-back Israel Folau had a field day as he profited from badly-placed kicks and below-par contesting in the air.

Meyer knows that a repeat performance against a deadly All Black back-three, featuring counter-attacking geniuses Ben Smith and Isreal Dagg, will surely lead to severe punishment. 

Meyer does not necessarily want his team to kick less, though, just better. 

"When I say tactical kicking I don’t mean kick the ball away, it means kicking on your terms, that you get the ball back once you kick and putting the opposition under pressure," explained the Bok coach. 

"That is why the All Blacks are so difficult to play, they have a great running game, they are fit and they have a great kicking game. It is difficult to stop them and Saturday will be a huge challenge for us, we have a lot of new guys in the team, a lot of injuries and I still believe it will go down to the last second."

"Our kicking game wasn’t good enough at the end [against Australia], but there were other factors as well at the end. It wasn’t just Handré [Pollard], but we did miss one for touch, we missed one lineout and couldn’t get momentum back."

Meyer was at pains to explain that he was not calling for a return to the gameplan of 2007, but insisted that a strong kicking game was a key part of a successful international team. 

"Tactical kicking nowadays, there is not a lot of difference between the teams. We’re not where we should be but we have only been together for two and a half weeks so that is the big challenge for us – to get our tactical kicking game right before the World Cup," he added. 

"Way back in 2009/10 South Africa beat the All Blacks because of their superior kicking game, but the All Blacks got together and worked on theirs.

"People don’t believe it, but they (New Zealand) are the team that kicks the most in the world, but they kick tactically correct. 

"They kick for field position and they are the best team in the world in contesting the ball. I’ve said since I’ve started that South Africa has gone backwards in that area, we’re not very good in contesting the ball.

"The All Blacks will kick a lot of tactical box kicks as well and our tactical kicking is not where it should be. At times we just kick the ball away, and we go back in defensive mode. 

"I'm probably not too bad a coach but I'm not a magician. The team has only been together for two weeks, so it will take time to change that."