Video: Matt Giteau Kicking Follow Up - Green and Gold Rugby
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Video: Matt Giteau Kicking Follow Up

Video: Matt Giteau Kicking Follow Up

On Friday I went to the Wallabies Captains Run and watched Matt Giteau and Quade Cooper working very hard on their kicking and as I noted in my article on Matt Giteau’s kicking later that day, Giteau was still having troubles whilst Cooper was kicking well. 

What I didn’t realise at the time was that this was a “kick-off” between the two to help Robbie Deans decide on who would be kicking against Ireland.  As we now know he went with the left-side, right-side strategy and that seemed to cause confusion between the kickers when the first kick was straight in front.  Giteau eventually took this kick and started poorly but he recovered later in the game, although his later kicks were from close range.

I’m not a fan of the two kickers strategy and believe the coach should select the player that is kicking the best, back him, and let him develop a rhythm.

I thought this week I’d follow up with a more detailed look at what I think is going on with Giteau’s kicking.

First, I look at some kicks under pressure for the Wallabies in the last decade.

There’s the John Eales kick against the All Blacks in 2000 to retain the Bledisloe Cup after fulltime.  This was a remarkable kick, given what was riding on it, but also the fact that Eales had played a full game in the tight five and hadn’t kicked at all during the game.  As Eales said in his biography he focussed on his goal kicking mantra “Head down, slow, follow through to the posts …”.  He struck the ball sweetly and the rest is history.

Similarly two weeks later Stirling Mortlock had a kick against South Africa from an even wider angle than the Eales kick to win the game and Tri-Nations for the Wallabies.  Again, a sweet strike under enormous pressure.

Then to the 2007 World Cup and with three minutes to go Stirling Mortlock steps up to take a long range penalty shot.  Had that kick gone over and the Wallabies beaten England who knows what might have happened in the rest of the finals series.

Writing in the Australian on Saturday, Wayne Smith made the point that poor goal kicking has cost the Wallabies 3 of the 6 tests leading into the game against the Irish.  In the game against Ireland last year Matt Giteau missed two penalty attempts that would have put the game out of reach of the Irish, against Scotland he missed the conversion of Ryan Cross’s try on fulltime and then the missed penalties late in the second half against England a couple of weeks ago.

The kicks against Scotland and England are obvious but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to lump the Ireland game last year on Giteau’s kicking.  He kicked quite well that day with four from six including one from the left touchline to convert Rocky’s try.  The two penalties he missed were at the 14th minute mark of the first half and two minutes into the second half.

In Peter FitzSimons biography of Eales it’s described how goal-kicking legend Grant Fox taught Eales some of the finer points of kicking.  “Concentrate as you take your steps in, on bringing your leg through on a perfect straight arc …  The other extremely important point is where your non-kicking boot lands.  It must be a hip’s width to the side of the ball and be pointing directly at the target or you’re wasting your time”.  Then Fox went on to tell Eales “Mentally, empty your mind of everything but the routine.  All thoughts of ‘this has gotta go over, this has gotta go over’ are a waste.  The ball doesn’t know the situation, and doesn’t care!  It just wants to be hit sweetly and you’re not going to be able to oblige unless you are relaxed”.

Last week I pointed out that Giteau has a technical flaw in that he doesn’t follow through and therefore his head is so far behind the ball that he has a tendency to swing across the ball too far and therefore push it to the left of the posts.  This can also result in a pull to the right of the posts.

John Eales shared a strong friendship with Ben Perkins who also helped him with his kicking.  It’s interesting that Ben Perkins is now Matt Giteau’s kicking coach.  He has been quoted over the last couple of days talking about the kick Giteau missed against England from in front saying “He was leaning so far back he cut it like a poor golf posture scoop”.

Robbie Deans has now acknowledged there is a problem saying “He’s going through a speedbump at the moment, there’s no doubt about that. But he has allowed it to affect his mental processes and that happens to even the best.  The point is the player has to own the solution. At the end of the day, he is the one that has to master it.”

However, John O’Neil had a different view saying “We will leave no stone unturned. If a kicking coach is what we need, let’s do it. Whatever it takes.”

I’m amazed that Robbie Deans didn’t get a kicking coach in last week or work with Giteau himself on the problems.  Ben Perkins suggested the other day he could fix Giteau’s problems in two sessions. Regardless of who it is, Giteau shouldn’t just be left to fix the issues on his own.

Hopefully this video explains a little more about the problem that I see with Giteau’s kicking.

  • RugbyReg

    excellent vid (and graphics). You can really see it in his action, how much he’s unbalanced. Would be interesting to compare it with when he was kicking.

    And as an aside, I forgot how hard that Morty kick v SAF was.

    • sammy

      Not that we should be using mortlock as a pin-up boy for kicking – I used to live in canberra and saw every brumbies match..there was no such things as a dead certainty with him…he’d bang one in from the sideline then miss 3 in front. Cost them a super 14 title as well against the crusaders.

  • RedsHappy

    Austin, once again, thank you.

    The last few paras get to the heart of the (overall) matter.

    Why on earth when it’s obvious for some considerable time that Giteau has had ‘pressure kick’ issues that have, or could have, cost the Wallabies games (as they would with any kicker), has the Wallabies coaching group not engaged a supportive kicking coach for Giteau (and perhaps to aid all the kickers, JOC, QC etc)?

    I think that some top teams have near full-time kicking coaches given the huge importance of this skill.

    We now have John O’Neill suggesting kicking coaches after Saturday – if it wasn’t so serious, it would be hilarious!

    And it’s obvious is it not that it’s so much more effective to get to technical kicking problems before they start repeating themselves in more and more tense situations when clearly they can become chronic (as has occurred for Giteau this June) and thus much more expensive to the outcome.

    The inaction – until maybe now – is inexplicable.

  • Joe_Mac

    Thanks Austin, great work

  • jase’

    the last few years it seems we have often found ourselves losing tests by a few points. a decade ago matt burke was kicking at like 90% (i could be wrong on this)and we were winning those tests by just a few points. i wonder however if we had a 90% recently would it be masking our major deficiencies

    • JJJ

      I suspect our major deficiencies would mostly sort themselves out if we started winning the tight tests. Missed kicks in tight tests are momentum-killers.

  • I’m with Grant Fox. There are million different ways to kick the ball, but there are certain parameters that must be obeyed. Barnes is the best kicker in the ‘group’ followed by JOC, followed by Gits, followed by QC. Quade’s action gives the ball very little chance to go straight.

    • Just to add: coaches talk about the 1%s, but we haven’t had a top rank goal kicker since 2003.

      Get Matt Burke in to have a look at everyone.

      • RedsHappy

        Great idea. Or Flatley perhaps. Another excellent way in which top ex-players could come in and mentor and assist the current lot. And perhaps some of our kickers might relate better to an ex-player than a specialist coach?

    • RedsHappy

      Scarf – that whole ‘group’ could probably improve with the right kicking coach, and then, if the group does improve, you start to have better contingencies for injuries or if one is having an ‘off day’ or off month, whatever.

  • Tahd

    Talk footy, nobody cares about your racist propaganda.

  • Fox, Lynagh, Burke, Wilkinson, Carter, Steyne

    Great teams have great, not average, kickers.

  • Davey

    The similarities to a golf swing are quite apparent.

    As with a golf swing, an incorrect kick (or swing) plane will result in the wall being pushed off line.

    Gits is currently too steep in his plane resulting in a fade.

    Another golf analogy is that no two kicking actions (swings) are the same and that even an ugly action can produce accurate ball striking (think Jim Furyk).

    The task is to understand what swing works for you and adjust your alignment to suit. If Gits kicks with a natural fade and feels comfortable doing that, why not just aim further right?

  • Davey
Rugby
@ScottA_

Scott is one of our regular contributors from the old days of G&GR. He has experience coaching Premier Grade with two clubs in Brisbane.

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