Goal-kicker hoodoo hits Steyns hard

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 17/09/2012
Morne Steyn
Photosport

HARD NIGHT: Morne Steyn of the Springboks lines up a penalty.

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It seems Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium is popular with everyone bar the goal kickers but nobody's quite sure why.

In a windless and dry indoor facility that produced an electric atmosphere during Saturday's Rugby Championship test, South Africa's Morne Steyn and Frans Steyn managed one of eight attempts between them with All Black Aaron Cruden also fluffing three of his seven shots at goal.

Granted, several of the Steyns' penalties were from long range, but the Springboks potentially left 20 points on the field in what was a defining factor in their 21-11 loss.

Captain Jean de Villiers offered the use of the adidas ball favoured in New Zealand as a contributing factor. “I think we need to understand that we played with a different ball - the adidas ball - where we usually play with a Gilbert ball in Super Rugby and in the Rugby Championship at home,” he said.

“We saw the goal kickers struggle at the World Cup in this stadium as well, so there are a couple of factors.”

He's right in so far as the Steyns, Morne (1 of 5 on the night) and Frans (0 of 3), are not alone in struggling under the roof.

Statistics from Ruckingoodstats show the success rate during last year's World Cup was a lowly 54.2 per cent at the stadium.

Of 59 attempts, 32 were successful during the tournament, with England's Jonny Wilkinson so frustrated that the team tried to illegally switch balls to assist his radar.

And the trend continued during this year's Super Rugby season, with kickers at the ground successful with 64 of 97 attempts at an unflattering 65 per cent.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's simple summary might be closest to the truth.

“Aaron Cruden didn't have too much trouble. Four out of seven's not too bad . . . I guess it's just something new to kickers and you have to adjust to it. Some guys can, some guys can't.”

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