What would the Perfect Six Nations Player look like? Planet Rugby have teamed up with Two Cents Rugby, eToro and a host of former players and coaches to answer that question.
This six-part series is brought to you by eToro, the official investing and trading partner of Premiership Rugby, where we dive into the different attributes players bring to a team and head to the lab to piece together the perfect Six Nations player, getting insight from some of rugby’s top minds.
Just like you can build your ideal investing portfolio on eToro, we will combine attributes like kicking, power, speed, defence, and leadership into something unstoppable on the rugby field.
Life of a goal-kicker
“When it comes to goal-kicking most of us are a maligned bunch. We’ve not got many mates, so it’s always good to talk to other goal-kickers,” he said.
“If you’re ever bored at a training session and there’s one bloke on his own with a bag of balls, go and help him out or give him a Mars bar or something because he’s a bit lonely.”
Stimpson went on to break down the perfect kick and highlighted technique and making sure the goal-kicker’s bodyweight travels through the ball as being vital to the process.
“It’s about making sure you’re sort of beyond 45 degrees, so when you approach the ball you can get all your bodyweight through the ball,” he added.
“So many kickers come at it too straight on and then they have to be like a soccer player, open their shoulders and try and time it.
“But if you’re someone like Diego Dominguez in the past, who was so talented, you can get away with it.
“Rugby players have to rely on technique and that’s all about making sure the bodyweight is travelling through the ball at the right time, just like a decent golfer.
“Beyond that, you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got a hard foot. If you punch somebody in the face, you’re not going to slap him across the line. You’ve got one chance to hit the bloke who’s been rude to you – I’m not suggesting violence is the answer – you want to get bang and make sure all the weight goes through.
“When I’m coaching kids, I go ‘who’s annoyed you? Who do you want to drop one on the nose of? Do the same with the ball.’
“Then you follow through so you make sure you’re not coming across the ball. You want to check that after you’ve made contact with the ball, you’re facing down the track and all the energy is going towards the post.”
He continued: “I call it ‘cold inevitability’. One of the biggest problems a goal-kicker can do is think about the consequences before they’ve kicked it.
“You lift your head up to see where the ball’s gone and you’ve already opened your shoulders, and you’ve kicked across the ball.
“People say ‘keep your eye on the ball’, but keep your eye on the back of the ball. Imagine you can see a tiny bit of stitching on the back of the ball and that’s what you’re going to make contact with.
“Okay, there’s pressure, you’ve got 40,000 people watching. The worst thing you ever want to hear is your dad say, ‘never mind son, you lost the game but it’s a team game, it’s not your fault.’ I don’t want to hear that too many times, that broke me.
“What you’ve got to do is, regardless of the pressure, make sure that you’re in the moment and your mind is completely focused on the challenge.
“Depending on the game and the situation, I will get really personal with it. It will make it really, really matter to me.
“If I was playing for Leicester Tigers to win something, let’s say Rob Andrew was mean to me, so I would put his face on the ball. I would make sure that I make contact with his face to make sure the ball goes through the uprights, because I’m not going to miss that.
“If it’s for England, Clive Woodward didn’t necessarily rate me and I had to prove myself to him, so every time I was kicking the ball for England, it would be Clive’s face.
“It’s not a personal thing, I just used it to try and inspire me.
“Whatever it is you need to do as a goal-kicker, you need to find a technique, you’ve got your mind in the present, you don’t worry about the consequences.”
When asked for his perfect kicker selection in this year’s Six Nations, the 1997 British & Irish Lions series winner opted for Italy sharpshooter Tommaso Allan, who has been in a rich vein of form off the tee.
“You’ve got to go with Tommy. Until last week, he hadn’t missed in something like 28 kicks. He’s gone past Diego Dominguez just now as a lad that has scored the most points for Italy, which is a great feat,” he praised.
“It’s just that consistency. We also all love the underdog and the fact that Italy fully deserve their place at the world table.
“They’re very close to taking some scalps and he’s a guy that just delivers for them with the boot.”
He added on Allan’s technique: “There’s not much going wrong is there? For all the chat that goes on in my head, it comes down to, are you delivering under pressure? He gets himself in a great position, you see his finish is right the way through the ball.
“He’s like me, he doesn’t use a massive tee, which is probably why I picked him out. He still uses quite a low tee and he leans the ball slightly open, so you can see the piece of stitching.”
The Perfect Six Nations Player series is brought to by eToro, the official investing and trading partner of Premiership Rugby.
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