The Wallabies have stepped up their preparations for the 2103 Lions tour by extending the contract of kicking coach Braam van Straaten.
The former Springbok fly-half has agreed a new deal to remain with the Tri Nations Champions for a further two years, ensuring he will still be involved when Britain and Ireland’s elite come calling.
Van Straaten joined the Wallaby set up in 2010 and has had a major impact on the side’s goal-kicking success rate.
Capped 21 times by the Boks between 1999 and 2001, van Straaten has improved the Wallaby return by an impressive 23 per cent, with the likes of James O’Connor, Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper all benefitting from his wealth of experience.
“It is great to be resigning,” said van Straaten, who played club rugby in England with Leeds and Sale.
“Australia have a whole lot of talented players such as Kurtley Beale and James O’ Connor and they are very professional, so it is a pleasure working with them.
"I also enjoyed my time with the team at the World Cup. As things stand, we have agreed on the terms of the contract, so all that is left to do is sign it.”
The Lions were on the wrong end of a goal-kicking masterclass the last time they left these shores as Morne Steyn booted the Boks to a last-gasp victory in the second-Test in Pretoria.
Steyn landed a monster 55-metre penalty with the last kick of the game to hand the Boks an unassailable 2-0 series lead, breaking Lions’ hearts in the process.
The tourists will hope to avoid such a fate in two years’ time but, with his straight-forward philosophy and his close working relationship with the Wallaby stars, van Straaten’s re-commitment to the Australian cause is a big boos for Robbie Deans and co.
"It took me 30 years to perfect the art of kicking, and the key is to get the basics right,” added van Straaten.
“Interestingly, 99% of mistakes are made in the run-up to the ball, so I study video footage of the players and tell them what they are doing wrong.
“The key to striking the ball well is to keep compact in one’s body position, to get the technique right so you strike the sweet spot on the ball, and to be strong mentally.
“If players get that right, they will kick accurately.”
Van Straaten has also been working with the Golden Lions in his native South Africa and he admits he would like to continue in that role as well if possible.
The Golden Lions won a first Currie Cup title in 12 years last season, with van Straaten playing a key role in their success by improve their goal-kicking percentages by 19-20 per cent across his six-month spell on board.
“I have to find out exactly what they expect from me and I have a few terms as well, so there are a few details that have to be finalised before I sign with them.
“But I would like to be involved with the union. They also have talented players who have great potential.”