Leali'ifano searching for kicking mojo
August 9, 2014
Christian Leali'ifano's boot was on song for the Wallabies in 2013 © Getty Images
Brumbies playmaker Christian Leali'ifano admits he is struggling to regain his kicking form as he vies for a Test berth for the opening Bledisloe Cup clash in Sydney on Saturday.
Leali'ifano recorded a success rate of 83 per cent in Test rugby and 78 per cent in Super Rugby in 2013 and became an integral part of the Wallabies' squad.
But after returning from an ankle injury this year he has managed a success rate of just 51 per cent for the Brumbies and the 26-year-old told the Sydney Morning Herald the problem was a mental one.
"That was the toughest thing, I set a pretty high standard last year," Leali'ifano said. "It's coming along well, I'm just still just struggling mentally a bit, talking myself out of things, not trusting my system and seeing a different picture than I'm used to.
''That all comes into play when I'm kicking, especially in the bigger situations, which I'm usually really good at. I'm just trying to get that back again and hopefully it comes sooner rather than later. I've been waiting all year."
He is still an integral part of the Wallabies, considered one of their cultural touchstones with a humility and professionalism that coach Ewen McKenzie views as a crucial part of his project to overhaul the Test side.
Leali'ifano's form in general play has been solid however, and with other kicking options such as Bernard Foley in the mix, coach Ewen McKenzie may not exclude him based purely on his struggles in front of the posts. But if recent squad selections against France - where Leali'ifano did not feature - are any indication, he may face a struggle to regain his 2013 status.
"To try to get in the Test team somewhere, that's the main goal at the moment," Leali'ifano said. "All I can do is push as hard as I can at training and compete hard with the boys who are there at the moment. It's out of my control but hopefully I'll somehow find a way in there."
The Wallabies are aiming for their eighth-straight win on Saturday, while the All Blacks are on the verge of notching a record 18th.
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