Pretty much everything I’ve read over the last week has been about three things, Hoopers push/shove/punch on Sanchez, Sanchez’s diving and the one we’re interested in – Bernard Foley’s kicking.
Five from nine is an odd stat, it’s not really negative and it’s not really positive either. Regardless, either way there are missed scoring opportunities, and in a World Cup Pool that could well come down to points difference, there is no room to be wasteful.
So I decided to have a look at Bernard Foley’s kicking in the game to see if there is anything obvious going on there.
Goal Kicking is a thankless task and the pressure kickers come under, and place on themselves is huge. It takes some serious nerve to be able to stand in the middle of 80,000 people and be consistent in your performance. Frankly it’s a bloody lonely place to be, and the swing from adulation to criticism is rapid.
But it’s an essential part of the game and Australia do need to get it sorted ahead of the world cup.
So it will be interesting to see how Foley backs this kicking performance up against the All Blacks – presuming he starts – he’s certainly the best kicking option of the first choice fly halfs, but I wonder if this signals a need to force Christian Lealiifano into the match day squad somehow?
It’d be shame to lose Toomua at 12, but I wonder if there is scope to fit Lealiifano in at 15, moving Folau to the wing? Again, that would be a shame as Folau is a worry to defend from 15 for any team, whereas on the wing he’s probably too excluded. But it’s a headache that Cheika and Damien Hill will have to deal with though, simply put you can’t head into a world cup with sub 70% kickers, certainly not in a group as tight as Pool A.
I think it’s important to flag up a couple of things about this analysis. The first is we’re literally going through one game, which isn’t going to give us an indication of long term issues with Foley’s kicking, but purely what was happening on the night against Argentina.
The second is in game footage isn’t actually the best for kicking analysis; I prefer low level front and side on footage so we can do comparative analysis, so what I’ve tried to do here is look at what’s happening in the ball’s flight path and see if we can figure out the cause from there.
Ultimately goal kicking is a hard process to break down, having been a pretty average kicker in my day I’m certainly no expert.
But how important it has become is shown in the amount of specialist coaches there are involved in the game, and (if you’re that way inclined) sites like Alred Yapp (co-run by ex Randwick player Tony Yapp) and Stuart Lierichs Kick Coach are good places to start digging out more information.