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Ireland wary of the long-distance threat posed by South Africa's Pienaar

Coach Mark Tainton feels the Irish players need to keep their defensive discipline or face the kicking consequences.

Ruan Pienaar in training for South Africa in Blackrock.
Ruan Pienaar in training for South Africa in Blackrock.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

THE RAREFIED AIR on the Highveld must get to all Springbok kickers because they love a pop from distance.

Groomed on the pitches at Ellis Park, Loftus Versfeld, or Vodacom Park, South Africans routinely slot over placed kicks from beyond the halfway line.

Frans Steyn took the sick joke one step further at the World Cup when he landed monster penalties, against Fiji and Samoa, from about 70 metres out.

The goal-kicking centre will miss the November internationals but there is no shortage of long-range threats in the Springbok armoury.

A few vital penalties from ‘the red zone’, as Ireland kicking coach Mark Tainton describes make-able scoring chances, opened the debate about who should take the kicking tee for South Africa at the weekend.

Tainton has little doubt that there is more than one touring player putting his hand up for the role.

He told TheScore.ie, “They had a few problems in the championship but whether it is Morne Steyn that starts or [Pat] Lambie … he proved in the Currie Cup, when he kicked very well, that he could stand up when called upon.

The other guy, Elton Jantjies, who came off the bench in their last game – he’s a left-footer and he seemed comfortable kicking the ball from the halfway line.

“They’ve a number of guys that can kick goals for them and because they missed a few recently, I’m sure their kicking coach, Louis Koen, will rectify that.”

You’ve been ‘Ruan-ed’

There is also the matter of Ulster’s own kicking supremo Ruan Pienaar, who punctured Munster’s Heineken Cup resistance last year with excellent long range kicking.

“Ruan is a world-class rugby player,” Tainton espouses. “That’s a scrum-half and a goal-kicker.”

When the question of restricting silly penalties on the halfway line, Tainton insists that they must be cut out up and down the park.

He said, “If we give away a penalty on their 22, they have a long kicking game out of hand and can push us back into our own half and put us under pressure not to concede anything closer.” Tainton added:

They can kick penalties from 50 metres out, 60 metres out. It’s something we have to be very wary of in our defence. Obviously zero is pretty much impossible but if we can do that, great.

“We just need to be smart at the breakdown and not give anything away.”

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Patrick McCarry

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