Rugby: Awry Wallabies need a kicking coach - Jenkins

Wallabies' James O'Connor, second from right, consoles Kurtley Beale after he missed a penalty goal against British and Irish Lions in their rugby test match in Brisbane, Australia. Photo / AP.
Wallabies' James O'Connor, second from right, consoles Kurtley Beale after he missed a penalty goal against British and Irish Lions in their rugby test match in Brisbane, Australia. Photo / AP.

Lions sharp-shooting mentor Neil Jenkins believes the Wallabies have shot themselves in the foot by failing to employ a full-time goalkicking coach.

Kicking sorely cost Australia a first Test win at Suncorp Stadium with Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor slotting an unacceptable four of nine shots in the two-point loss.

In contrast, Welsh radarboot Leigh Halfpenny nailed five from six to give him 27 from 29 on tour for a remarkable success rate of 93 per cent.

The British and Irish Lions back-up goalkicker, Owen Farrell, has an even better record with 18 from 19, including three straight from the sideline in Tuesday night's 35-0 win over the Melbourne Rebels.

Jenkins, a goalkicking hero of the Lions' last series success against South Africa in 1997, is being hailed as a key factor in the tourists' sharp-shooting precision as a full-time kicking coach.

The Wallabies don't possess a hands-on mentor for their goalkickers and the 41-year-old thinks that's undermined their campaign.

Former Springboks kicker Braam van Straaten works as a consultant to the likes of O'Connor and Berrick Barnes and has often advised them via Skype from South Africa.

Jenkins praised van Straaten as a fine technician and coach but admitted he was surprised Robbie Deans, an accomplished All Blacks goalkicker in his day, didn't employ a full-timer.

"I'm not too sure how much he's involved,'' Test rugby's former record point-scorer said.

"The importance of goalkicking was seen on Saturday and generally (the result) does come down to goalkicking.''

Australia weren't helped by the early loss of first-choice kicker Christian Lealiifano but Jenkins was also surprised Barnes, injured just before at halftime, wasn't immediately given the job ahead of O'Connor.

"I thought Barnes would have been kicking,'' he said. ``He never really misses.''

Jenkins routinely lines up behind every Lions attempt at goal and watches the ball-striking carefully, and hands out required advice on the run.

The former 91-Test back helped Halfpenny quickly overcome his sole failed attempt at Suncorp Stadium by immediately illustrating the fullback's slight mistake.

"His (non-kicking) foot just moved a bit close to the ball and he moved the tee a bit and just pushed off to the right,'' he said.

"I think it's important to be there or there abouts with the kickers as often as possible.''

There's a huge amount of symmetry heading into Saturday's second Test for Jenkins who, like compatriot Halfpenny, wore No.15 against the Boks 16 years ago when he kicked five from five in their series-sealing 18-15 Durban win when the home side scored three tries to none but couldn't kick their goals.

He still remembers how passionate South Africa were when they ran onto Kings Park that day.

"It was a real-eye opener because I thought they were going to run through the stand at the other end,'' Jenkins said.

"I don't think Australia will be any different and will come at us with everything on Saturday.''

-AAP

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