All Blacks have 'clarity' dealing with Bok kicking, suggest some of it was illegal though

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  • The All Blacks have "clarity" on the Boks' kicking game for the Test at Ellis Park after their travails in that regard last week in Nelspruit.
  • The tactic was push into the spotlight again after the New Zealanders questioned whether SA's approach was "borderline" in terms of legality.
  • But coach Ian Foster says his players first and foremost have taken a look at themselves in dealing with the high ball instead of just consulting World Rugby's reffing gurus. 

The All Blacks believe they have "clarity" on the Springboks' vaunted kicking game ahead of Saturday's Rugby Championship clash at Ellis Park.

South Africa's enduringly controversial yet highly successful tactic - criticised in some quarters for damaging the attractiveness of watching the game - received new attention in the aftermath of last weekend's 26-10 win in Nelspruit, primarily because of Kurt-Lee Arendse's red card for taking out Beauden Barrett in the air.

The diminutive winger copped a four-week ban for the clumsy effort.

All Black halfback Aaron Smith notably thought the Boks' tactic was "borderline", while head coach Ian Foster was left "frustrated" by them "chucking bodies in the air".

However, Foster acknowledged on Thursday that his side first and foremost addressed their own shortcomings in dealing with the high ball - Arendse scored his first Test try from a botched New Zealand grab in the first half - before consulting World Rugby on some incidents.

READ | Foster defiant as All Blacks axe hangs over him: 'Losing to Boks isn't unusual'

"We're always looking to iron out our problem areas first," he said.

"And so we looked at how we catch and that's been a big focus this week. We have people who are very good at that and we just have to keep backing that confidence and skillset."

While there has been introspection in that regard, Foster also intimated that there had been some spirited debate between his coaching staff and World Rugby's refereeing gurus over the Boks' perceived questionable methods chasing their own hoists.

"We've gone back and forth a number of times about people running fast and jumping and hitting you before the ball's even come down," he said.

"We've got some pretty good clarity on that, that there was at least one other situation in that game that perhaps we should've been rewarded.

"But you know, we're pretty clear."

Teams:

Springboks

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox NcheSubstitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Willie le Roux

All Blacks

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Tyrell Lomax, 2 Samson Taukei'aho, 1 Ethan de Groot

Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Tupou Vaa'i, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Quinn Tupaea

Earlier in the week, Bok mentor Jacques Nienaber suggested that he and his charges were left a bit bemused by the criticism, even though they readily admitted that the Arendse card was the correct decision.

"We approach the kicking game like we've approached it since 2018. We haven't changed the way we've done things," he said.

"The [Arendse] incident was according to the letter of the law, so we can't say anything about that. But he also contested 5 or 6 other high ball during the game and they were perfect.

"He just to his timing wrong on [Barrett]."

Kick-off is at 17:05.    

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