Goalkicking a concern for Elton?
Elton Jantjies may be the name on everyone’s lips at the moment and is the red hot favourite for the Springbok number 10 spot, but if there is one area he needs to work on, it is his goalkicking.
It is generally accepted that good test goalkickers kick at an average of 80 percent, with anything above seen as the norm.
And while Jantjies has been exceptional across the board in every other facet, if there is one point of concern it is his goalkicking, where he has good at times, but average for most of the season.
It may sound harsh for one aspect to detract from the season that Jantjies is currently having, and last Saturday he added another feather to his cap with an exceptional tactical kicking display in the rain, with two pinpoint kicks leading to two tries in the opening 10 minutes against the Blues, both of which need to be applauded for their accuracy in the rain.
But test rugby is often a much tighter affair than Vodacom Super Rugby, and points are harder to come by, while defences are tighter and chances fewer. And more often than not the team that builds the score on the scoreboard, and takes the points when they are available are the ones that come out on top.
Jantjies has by far been the form flyhalf of the season and the way he marshalls his backline is without peer in the country at the moment, but it is interesting noting what new Springbok coach Allister Coetzee will take into account when choosing his starting number 10 in a few weeks’ time for the tests against Ireland.
A new website goalkickers.co.za appeared recently which ranked the goalkickers in the competition – using a variety of stats, including difficulty of kick, distance, altitude and side of the foot used, first or second half and score at the time of the kick (to depict the pressure on the goalkicker) and some of the results have been very surprising.
At the end of last week’s results in the competition, and accounting for all the factors involved, Jantjies ranks a lowly 43rd in the competition for goalkicking accuracy and success even though his overall statistics aren’t that bad.
While not in the 80% category, Jantjies sits at 72.1% with success in 44 out of his 61 kicks and an average difficulty rating of 4.40 (out of 10).
While most of the misses have been from the sideline, as the Lions tend to score a lot more out wide than they do in the middle, there have been one or two sitters that he should have got that he missed as well. In particular, one penalty against the Sunwolves, and another against the Cheetahs were both in front and missed, but thanks to the good performance of his side had no impact on the game.
Should this count against Jantjies in any way? Well, only if you compare the stats to his rivals and Pat Lambie – albeit with a lot less rugby under his belt because of injury – sits at 90% missing just one kick since he has returned to the field. Lambie’s kicks were also more difficult on the rating scale, although a fairer comparison can only be possible when Lambie has played more rugby this season.
When looking across the franchises, Wallaby flyhalf Bernard Foley’s average for the season is 77.5% while Highlanders pivot Lima Sopoaga is at 74.1% and Beauden Barrett at a lowly 62.1%. In fact, if there is a country where kicking may be a big worry, it is rather New Zealand. However, the amount of tries scored by New Zealand sides normally negates this factor.
Coach Johan Ackermann is one who isn’t worried about Jantjies’ kicking at the moment.
“He has missed a few kicks but Elton works exceptionally hard on his kicking at the moment and puts in the hours every week,” Ackermann told supersport.com
And it is true Jantjies is ticking all the other boxes at the moment. But if there is one aspect he can improve on, and one which does count a lot more at test level, it is his goalkicking.
The smaller margins at test level make it a lot more important.