Andre Joubert believes the Boks run the risk of history repeating itself if they don’t pick an established goal-kicker for the Lions series.
The 1997 Boks outscored the Lions nine tries to three but ultimately lost the series 2-1 due to wayward goal-kicking. While the 2009 side will head into the June Tests with a settled unit they are lacking options in this department.
Speaking to keo.co.za, Joubert said Ruan Pienaar’s knee injury is a concern and questioned his ability to carry out the primary goal-kicking duties. Pienaar will have two games to gain some momentum ahead of that series, but the Boks’ other option, Frans Steyn, is now a doubt due to a knee-ligament injury.
‘There aren’t really a number of players putting their hands up,’ Joubert said. ‘It’s worrying when you consider this is where the series is going to be won and lost, just like it was lost through our missed kicks in 1997.
‘We scored more tries than the opposition, but failed to kick as well and it cost us. The Lions never looked like playing a running game back then, and I don’t think they’ll be too expansive when they play us on this occasion.’
Joubert said Bok coach Peter de Villiers may be criticised, but he needs to ensure his side take every available opportunity against the Lions, and that means goaling their kicks.
‘The Lions will look to play tight rugby, and they’ll look to win the series by kicking more goals than the Boks. They’ll try to stop the Boks with their defence and when they get the opportunities they’ll kick them over.
‘That’s Ian McGeechan’s influence, as he knows better than anyone that in Test rugby you play to win.’
Butch James was ruled out of the tour last month when he also succumbed to knee injury. If Frans Steyn is unavailable, De Villiers may look to the likes of Earl Rose and Morné Steyn, the latter player boasting the best 2009 goal-kicking record for a South African flyhalf.
Sharks No 9 Rory Kockott would be an excellent option off the bench given his goal-kicking prowess, but unfortunately it is believed De Villiers rates the likes of Jano Vermaak and Ricky Januarie ahead of Kockott.
By Jon Cardinelli