Wal­laby Fo­ley finds radar ahead of Bloem­fontein Test


AF­TER a “hic­cup” in Dunedin, Bernard Fo­ley has found his range and that bodes well ahead of a show­down with the sharp­shoot­ing Spring­boks in Bloem­fontein on Satur­day.

Fo­ley (pic­tured) has slot­ted 15 from 15 in the two Tests since the sec­ond Bledis­loe, a per­for­mance skills coach Mick Byrne sim­ply cat­e­gorised as an off night.

“I think it’s faith, es­pe­cially when you have a hic­cup,” Byrne said.

“You can’t get con­cerned about what hap­pened or why it was this or why it was that be­cause you get caught up in stuff that’s not re­ally there. You trust your rhythm, go back and work on what you need to work on.”

Byrne doesn’t har­bour any con­cerns for Reece Hodge’s ac­cu­racy, ei­ther, putting his two-from-eight at Test level down to the sheer dif­fi­culty of the shots he faces when handed the tee.

“When you look at the field, with­out get­ting too tech­ni­cal, there are cer­tain parts of the field where kick­ers kick it at 100 per­cent, and then as you move out – it’s usu­ally at that 25m mark, a semi-cir­cle around the goal – most kick­ers are at 100 per­cent,” Byrne said.

“When you push out to 30m they drop out to about 85. When you get out to 40m, some of them are drop­ping down to 60, 65.

“When you drop out to 50 they’re about 50, 40, 30 sort of thing.

“If you look at Hodgey’s eight kicks and mul­ti­ply by the dis­tance of his kick, he’d prob­a­bly be twice as far as any other kicker.”

So, what’s the merit in tak­ing those low per­cent­age kicks?

“The beauty of that is, if you’ve got a guy who can kick the ball from 55m, and you’re go­ing to go in and try and slow the ball down and you know the guy’s go­ing to kick penal­ties from there, you might have a sec­ond thought about giv­ing away a penalty from 55m out.

“It might just be enough to say to a team, if you want to start giv­ing away penal­ties here … ex­tend the safe zone.”

The Wal­la­bies will need both Fo­ley and Hodge to have their radar’s work­ing when they tackle the Spring­boks in Bloem­fontein, as ac­cu­rate goal kick­ing is one of three non-ne­go­tiables against the Boks on their home turf.

“It is a non-ne­go­tiable to beat any­one, re­ally,” Byrne said of the phys­i­cal­ity chal­lenge. But South Africa bring a phys­i­cal­ity. They pride them­selves on that. They’re a

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