Christian Lealiifano ready to break the shackles after shedding kicking responsibilities

admin | 杭州桑拿
4 Dec 2018

CARDIFF: Christian Lealiifano hopes relinquishing the goal-kicking duties can help him break the shackles as he aims to lock down a regular starting spot in the Wallabies.
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The ACT Brumbies star also hopes he can unlock Israel Folau’s talent at fullback to help him end the longest try-scoring drought of his Wallabies career.

Lealiifano’s confidence has taken a hit as he struggles with his kicking accuracy this year, admitting his woes with the boot are taking a mental toll.

But he is poised to get another chance to impress at inside centre when the Wallabies play Wales in Cardiff as new coach Michael Cheika puts his faith in proven players.

Lealiifano is battling Brumbies teammate Matt Toomua for the No.12 jersey, and hopes being able to focus solely on his regular duties will ease the pressure.

“[The confidence] is slowly building nicely, it’s something that comes with just playing more,” Lealiifano said.

“I feel like it’s coming along really well, all I can do is just keep enjoying it and not stress too much.

“I think you lose confidence if you put pressure on yourself, you’ve got to have fun. Not kicking has taken a lot of pressure off, just putting it away … focusing on other areas.

“But if it ever comes up again, hopefully I’ll be ready. It’s just a work in progress.”

Lealiifano was regarded as Australia’s No.1 goalkicker last year, nailing 83 per cent of shots in Tests and 78 per cent in Super Rugby.

But in trying so hard to regain his confidence after off-season ankle surgery, his accuracy dropped to just 51 per cent.

Cheika has declared the players who went within a minute of beating New Zealand two weeks ago deserve another chance in the starting team.

That’s good news for Lealiifano – and if given another chance, the talented playmaker is preparing to take down the “big trucks” in the Welsh backline.

Wales have named a giant midfield of Jamie Roberts and George North as the centre pairing.

North – 109 kilograms and 194 centimetres – famously carried Israel Folau on his back in a British and Irish Lions game last year while Roberts is just as destructive at 110 kilograms and 193 centimetres.

“If you’ve got size like that, you’re going to use it, our job is to limit the go-forward they get,” Lealiifano said.

“They’ll be trying to cause some havoc up the middle … If it’s me you’ve got to put your body on the line and try to stop the big trucks.”

Folau has failed to score in Australia’s past five games, his longest period without a try since making his Wallabies debut last year.

“I am pretty happy with the way I’m playing, I’m creating opportunities for myself and guys around me … scoring tries is a bonus,” Folau said.

“Most people would probably say I’ve gone under the radar because I’m not scoring tries, but I’m doing a lot of my work off the ball.”

Lealiifano said the duo’s combination would rely more on instinct than planned moves.

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