Every week we give readers of BOKzine the opportunity to ask questions to South African rugby personalities. Simply sign up for our weekly fan newsletter, BOKzine, by clicking here!
Your Question: Hi Louis - Do you identify specific zones where different types of kicks from hand apply? The object must surely be to kick with the intention of gathering the ball again and so chips and grubbers are usually used on attack outside our 22 only, etc. Secondly, do you work with the entire squad given that the modern game demands skills from all. - Ashley Smith
Louis answers: Ashley, you are 100% correct – we will always kick with the aim of regaining possession, either by contesting the kick in the air, pinning the opponent back and “forcing” him to make a mistake or kick out in an attacking position for us to play from the lineout. From our own 22, we will kick to get into a better position on the field because territory is very important these days. Regarding the kicking skills – we work with every player in the backline on various kicking strategies and kicks, not only at goal.
Your Question: Louis you can talk all you want about stats and how we've kicked the ball less but the fact remains that when we have kicked in-field we've executed it poorly. Most of our kicks are too far to be recovered or not into space but rather straight at an opponent. Surely some of that blame has to lie at your door as kicking coach? - Louis
Louis answers: Actually Louis, when analysing our tactical kicking game in the last number of Tests, it’s been generally very good. Here and there field kicks might not have gone where it was intended to go, but our chase and defensive lines from kicks have been good. And you are correct, kicking is my responsibility and I do agree that some of the kicks could’ve been executed better, but that said, I’m very happy with the progress made, especially from players in our back three. It’s a process and I know they will all improve even more with time.
Your Question: Hi Louis, please explain the deterioratuion in Morne Steyn's success rate since you've taken over as kicking coach. Thank you. - Tom White
Louis answers: Tom, thanks for the question. Morne has kicked 645 in practice since we’ve started working together in June and of those, he has averaged an 88% success rate, which is a phenomenaI achievement. I don’t believe in changing a successful kicker’s technique and we’ve not changed a thing whatsoever regarding Morné’s technique. Unfortunately, his kicking at goal has not been as accurate in some of the Tests, so I’m 100% convinced that this is not due to any technical flaw, but rather a combination of factors, like mental fatigue. I know he will be back – he is too much of a classy player and person not to.
Your Question: Why don't you guys apply some basic logic and pull a kicker who's doing badly during a game? Steyn in Dunedin, for example. Surely empirical evidence on the field should trump silly notions like HM's "Steyn always kicks well in the second half". - Michael Meadon
Louis answers: Michael, the decision on who takes the kicks are made by the coaching staff before the match, in consultation with the captain and the kickers. We believe in our players’ ability, therefor we want to always give them the benefit of the doubt when making calls and we will rather try to empower a player than just remove him from kicking duties because he’s missed a few. On Heyneke’s comments – I’ve not heard him said anything like that before, but I’ve also seen games where a player missed the first two or three kicks at goal only to land the next seven or eight, so sometimes it’s not as straight forward as yanking a player from kicking just because he’s missed a few.
Your Question: H/M revealed that the A/blacks & Ausie`s does kick more than us; i watched all games closely & you could see that they are using the old "inni-kassie skoppies", more often then us & it paid off for them. In other words, they kick with an aim whereas we kick aimless & giving away posession. Are there any plan to stop or work on this aimless kicking & should`nt an inform Habana see more of that ball. – Martin
Louis answers: Thanks for your question Martin. The fact of the matter is that in both our matches against Australia, they have kicked far more than us, used grubbers and chip kicks which turned over possession and we completely outplayed them – territory wise in Perth and tactically in Pretoria. Regarding New Zealand, they kicked a lot of contestable up and unders, very much like we do, to regain possession and try to create turnover opportunities. These days teams use tactical kicking to get into better positions on the field – all teams do that and the successful ones do it well. Take the Stormers as an example – they kicked the most of all the teams in Vodacom Super Rugby this year and topped the log. It’s like anything in rugby – execuction and sticking to the plan remain paramount. I don’t think our kicking is aimless, but it’s rather the opposite. Our kicking sessions are specifically designed to focus on regaining possession, finding space behind the defenders and distance to suffocate and strangle the opposition in their own 22. As I said in an earlier answer, our execution can always improve and it will improve as we continue on this journey.
Your Question: Its good to see that the boks have shifted to a running game and delivered well against the aussies. Never revert to the kicking game, as the boks will suffer like before. Match the All-Blacks in the running game and you will do superb! - Enoch
Louis answers: Thanks Enoch, but I can assure you we’ve not veered from our original plan. The average number of kicks per team per match in the Rugby Championships, is 26. In Pretoria, we kicked 24 times and Australia 27 times, which is spot on the average. I do believe in this Test, the Wallabies allowed us more space to run by dropping players back to wait for the kicks. I also believe that the altitude got to them late in the match, which tired them and allowed us more space to run – that is the beauty of playing on the high veld. We know that in the last 20 minutes, the opposition will probably struggle, allowing us more space and attacking opportunities.