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Australian star blames heavy pitches for poor goal kicking after coach cited small balls as the problem

Going into the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals there are plenty of narratives.

Focussing on Australia’s clash with New Zealand tomorrow at Elland Road, the traditional rivalry has been spiced up with talk that the Kiwis are scheduled on a flight for Saturday by the organisers and the strange talk about goal kicking from the Australian camp.

Coach Mal Meninga suggested that the usually reliable Penrith Panthers goal kicker Nathan Cleary’s misses were down to smaller and light balls at the Rugby League World Cup.

Now Valentine Holmes, who himself is a goal kicking option, has suggested the heavy pitches have been the problem.

“It is hard to kind of get the run up and strike from the sideline when you’re doing it on a heavy track,” Holmes said to The West Australian.

“It’s probably not as bad because we’ve scored lots of points.

“This week it’s likely to be a closer game and we need to be going up in sixes.

“I’m there for Nathan if he needs me, but it’s Nathan’s job.

“He asked me in the game against Italy if I wanted to take over because he missed the first one or two but I told him to keep going because it was probably going to play on his mind.

“I don’t think it’s something you should do mid-game unless you’re missing five in a row.”

New Zealand have had their own goal kicking woes as exemplified in their win over Leeds Rhinos before the tournament and their win over Ireland in the group stage.

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