Deans backs drop goals

The Lions' next opponents could be about to switch into drop goal mode as the World Cup reaches the knockout stages. [more]

Deans backs drop goals

The Lions’ next opponents could be about to switch into drop goal mode as the World Cup reaches the knockout stages.

Australia take on Britain and Ireland’s elite in 2013 but their immediate focus is a global quarter-final against South Africa on Sunday.

The Wallabies have become renowned for their sensational brand of attacking rugby, while the Springboks have developed a reputation for favouring a far more one dimensional game plan based on forward power, setpiece dominance and a strong kicking game.

But Australia head coach Robbie Deans admits the Wallabies have been taking a different approach in training over recent weeks, with the likes of Quade Cooper and Berrick Barnes regularly practicing drop goals.

"It's another string to your bow and it could become important," said Deans, who even admitted he had been encouraging his players to slot drop goals in Super Rugby fixtures in preparation for similar scenarios on the international stage.

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"Barnesy's always been a good drop-kicker and Quade has been working hard at it … who knows, it might be relevant.

"We saw that as recently as in England's game against Scotland and both these blokes have been working hard at it.

"The last few years we've had dialogue about it and it's been something we've been working at, along with goalkicking obviously.

"I think there probably has been a shift in the mindset, evidenced by Quade getting four drop goals (in this year’s Super 15). I don't imagine he got any the year before.

"It's part of the game and you need to turn possession into points because you don't get second chances at the World Cup.

"If we can claim possession, it's another option for us."

Australian sides have only kicked a total of six drop goals in six previous World Cup competitions but the most famous did come in a knockout game against the Boks.

The then world champions had kicked a record five drop goals through Jannie de Beer in the 1999 quarter-final win over England a week before but Stephen Larkham’s 50-metre extra-time drop secured a Wallaby win as Australia marched towards their second world crown.

Under current coach Peter de Villiers, the Boks have again turned to the drop goal with both Morne and Frans Steyn star exponents of the art. Both players have been in fine form in the early rounds of this World Cup but a shoulder injury has now ruled Frans out of the tournament, although Deans doesn’t believe the Boks will deviate from their tried and tested policy.

"They're one drop goal exponent less than they were which is probably a good thing from our perspective," added Deans.

"But I have no doubt it will be a big part of their thinking coming into this week."

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