Foley finds radar after Dunedin "hiccup"

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

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.

Foley 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.

"It's like in any sport - golfers are a classic one.

"We look at (Marc) Leishman, he's just won the (BMW) tournament but you go back to a tournament he had before, he wasn't hitting the ball really well there.

"You just have those moments at the top end of games.

"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.Bernard Foley hasn't missed a shot at goal in his last two Tests. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"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's certain parts of the field where kickers kick it at 100 per cent, and then as you move out - it's usually at that 25m mark, a semi-circle around the goal - most kickers are at 100 per cent," 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."Shots from 60 out are well within Reece Hodge's range at altitude. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleySo, 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.

The other two, winning the physicality up front and at least breaking even at set piece time, were two areas where the Wallabies battled, at times, when these two teams slugged out a 23-all draw a fortnight ago.

"It is a non-negotiable to beat anyone, really." Byrne said of the physicality challenge.The Wallabies lineout struggled in Perth. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"But South Africa bring a physicality.

"They pride themselves on that. They're a nation of it. We've got to match them in that area."

On the lineout front, Byrne said a few little things going wrong sparked a chain reaction in a poor second half in Perth.

"There was a couple of things identified, mainly around the get in and get the job done," Byrne said.

"There was probably a little bit too much thinking about it.

"The skill sets inside that lineout that night, a little bit better jumping, I think there was a crooked throw or overthrow as well.

"Just the little skill sets are really important.

"It comes back to trusting your habits and backing yourself under pressure."

The Wallabies take on the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Saturday night, kicking off at midnight AEDT and 1am Sunday AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.