Gopperth ‘knew’ it was going over

Date published: April 10 2016

Fly-half Jimmy Gopperth slotted an injury time conversion to hand Wasps a 25-24 against Exeter Chiefs in the Champions Cup quarter-final at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.

With the two time European champions trailing by one point after Charles Piutau's 80th minute try, the New Zealand fly-half successfully converted the Piutau score from a very difficult angle.

If the awkward look at the posts wasn't enough to test the nerves of the 32-year-old number ten, he had to overcome the pressure of what his attempt – which was lined up against the touchline in front of a packed Ricoh Arena –  would mean to the home side as a miss would put them out of the tournament.

“As a goal-kicker they’re the moments you practice night and day for,” Gopperth told the Coventry Telegraph

“As soon as the try was scored I excused myself from the celebrations to avoid getting too hyped up, and to concentrate on what I was supposed to be doing.

“Some of the boys told me they couldn’t watch, and some even went back into the tunnel, but they are the moments you play for and now we've got one foot in the semi-final door which is pretty pleasing.”

“I had another pretty big kick to get into a semi final when I played for the Hurricanes from about 53 metres, not right on the buzzer, but still a pretty big moment.

“With this one being right on the buzzer, it was one I’ll always remember I imagine. 

"You’ve got to treat it like it’s the first kick of the game, go through your processes, clear your mind and calm your heart-rate right down."

The former Leinster number ten admits he knew exactly in which direction his kick was headed despite being inconsistent from the tee during the match.

“As soon as it hit my foot I knew it was going straight, and the only way it was missing was if a massive gust of wind came from nowhere. As a kicker you know when you’ve made a good strike," he explained.

"I was pretty disappointed because I had a couple of poor ones during the game, so I went back to my basics.

“You look forward to moments like that and hope to have a few of those opportunities. 

"It tests your ability and nerve, and if you talk to any kicker they’ll tell you it’s what we do."