Australia coach John Connolly says he could see the Springboks employing the drop goal as a primary attacking weapon in 2007.
This comes after he watched Andre Pretorius slot four drop goals against England on Saturday and Frans Steyn launch two audacious long-range attempts, one of which was successful, in the first Test at Twickenham.
“It’s interesting with South Africa at the moment, the way they’re playing, getting in position for field goals. I just wonder if the field goal is coming back into vogue,” Connolly said.
“I really felt watching the Springboks against England that there was a field goal focus.”
Connolly recalled the goal kicking exploits of former Bok flyhalf Jannie de Beer in the 1999 World Cup. He slotted five in the quarter-final victory but the Boks ironically were beaten by a long- range drop by Stephen Larkham in the semis.
“De Beer was always a great field goal kicker but you didn’t see any great plan leading into that, that that was their plan,” Connolly said.
“Against England [this series], South Africa had a plan to take the field goal with anything they kicked.”
He said the Wallabies would resist the urge to use the drop goal as a means of accumulating points but warned that they would have to adapt their tactics for the Vodacom Tri-Nations and World Cup (should they face them) if the Boks persisted with this avenue of attack.
Kicking for field possession to take the Boks out of striking distance is not an option for Connolly, as their lineout has been diabolical in 2006.
He cited their 20-18 win in Sydney as the perfect example of why he would be reluctant to kick for touch in future encounters with the Boks, in the process heaping praise on 19-year-old Steyn.
“That night a lot of our return kicks to them were just after halfway. But now that guy [Steyn] would just keep shooting. He’s going to get the biscuits,” Connolly said.
“Now he’s going to be around the mark, so you’ll have to change your tactics.”