Having broadcast both the Western Force games and the now defunct Australian Rugby Championship when the radio station was on air, we want more than anything for the Western Force to be competitive and vying for a finals berth.
A year ago it looked a real possibility but in 2015 the team went back to kicking away hard-earned possession. Anyone who has played the game will tell you as a forward there is nothing so demoralising, than you backs constantly kicking and giving the ball back to the opposition.
Tactical kicking is all very well, but there is an art and a skill to it. The weight of the kick the angle of the kick, and where you actually kick from are key components to executing this skill effectively. If you are going to launch an up and under, you want it to be high enough to give your chasing players time to get to the ball as it comes down and contest it. Ideally you want it on the edge of the 22 metre line so the defending player cannot “mark’ it and clear the danger. The Western Force’s kicking in the main in 2015 was extremely poor and too many of the backs put the ball on their boot rather than taking the ball into contact and keeping possession.
So with the news that Sias Ebersohn was being let go there were many fans who waited with interest to find out who was lined up to take the pivotal Number 10 jersey.
This has been a position the Force has struggled with since day one for a number of reasons. It was remarkable to read last week that the club has used 22 players in this position since 2006. Which highlights how important it is that they get it right this time.
The announcement that they had signed 30 year old – he will be 31 before a ball is kicked next season with his birthday August 15th – Peter Grant had to be the biggest anti-climax. Grant returning to Super Rugby after spells in Japan and France.
Coach Michael Foley has indicated that this is a significant signing.
“Peter has a wealth of experience but also has the ability to lead players around him,” Foley said in the West Australian“He brings calmness in decision making, an eagerness to take the defence on when we attack and a consistency in goal kicking.”
Not sure what tapes of Peter Grant Mr Foley was watching, as Peter Grant has never been renowned for taking on defences. As he is now in his 30’s he is less likely to burst through a gap than when he was in his prime, which was a six years ago when the Force initially showed interest in signing him when Matt Giteau departed.
There is no doubt that Grant is a consistent kicker. His record speaks for itself. He is Super Rugby’s seventh-highest points scorer and has one of the competition’s highest kicking success rates. In nine seasons with the Stormers he scored 816 points off his boot as well as 10 tries. His ten tries came in 104 matches.
Ideally your fly half needs to be able to run, pass, kick and defend – although granted that last quality has been absenting many – in short they need an array of talents.
We will have to wait and see if Grant still has the bulk of those talents. There is no doubt he is a great kicker, but one feels the Western Force needed more than that. Foley has highlighted his leadership and decision making. This could be a key as to whether he is a success or not, and whether he just becomes another statistic in the revolving door at number 10. Certainly most fans yearn for a 10 who passes more than he kicks; and that goes for those outside of him as well.