- Springbok scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse expressed confidence in the team’s kickers despite their 19-16 loss against Ireland on Saturday.
- Seven points were missed by Cheslin Kolbe and Damian Willemse as they were thrust with the kicking responsibilities.
- Hendrikse also said the experience of playing against Conor Murray was an educational one.
Springbok scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse expressed confidence in the goalkickers in his team despite the malfunctioning of that key department in Saturday’s 19-16 loss against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.
The goal-kicking responsibilities were shared by Cheslin Kolbe and Damian Willemse. The latter nailed the first penalty, but missed another one in the first half.
That led to the Kolbe taking over the kicking responsibilities, and he slotted a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Kolbe then proceeded to miss the conversions from the tries scored by Franco Mostert and Kurt-Lee Arendse.
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The seven points that were missed in the game proved to be crucial in the long run as Ireland’s captain Johnny Sexton got away with missing the two conversions from the Josh van der Flier and Mack Hansen touchdowns.
The lack of a regular goalkicker also meant the Boks were forced to go for the corner even when there were kickable penalties.
That South African went into the Test without a recognised goalkicker was always an outside concern, especially with regular kickers in Elton Jantjies and Handre Pollard out of the team for personal and injury-related reasons respectively.
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They got away with it against Argentina in Buenos Aires, but Test rugby is unremitting in how weaknesses can be cruelly exposed.
Hendrikse was insistent that they can improve in any department and that they didn’t utilise their chances well.
“We have kickers who can kick and there’s time for us to improve in any department,” Hendrikse said.
“We had a few chances, and we had a lot of entries in the 22, but we weren’t clinical enough. We need to review the game and see where we went wrong.”
Hendrikse and Willemse, with their combined 26 caps worth of experience, were paired up against Conor Murray’s and Sexton’s 207 matches worth of experience.
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They didn’t acquit themselves badly at all as the Boks, who have teething issues at half-back as the World Cup looms, may have longer-term questions answered by having two youngsters in the thick of the action.
Ireland, despite the excellence of Sexton, Murray, and Jamison Gibson-Park, doesn’t have adequate depth at half-back.
Hendrikse said they weren’t overawed by the occasion of playing at a packed Aviva Stadium against the experience of Ireland’s best.
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“That experience was massive because you have to learn to absorb the pressure with the big crowd,” Hendrikse said.
“We had to communicate a lot in terms of what we needed to do and how we were going to control the game.
“We were calm and had nice conversations between us.”
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