the study of all things kicker related

Sunday, January 26, 2014

RBS 6 Nations: The Kickers - 2014

American football reaches it's annual pinnacle this weekend with the spectacle known as the Super Bowl. One of the games ancestors, rugby, is also in the spotlight this weekend as the Six Nations Championship kicks off. Like football, rugby diminished but did not eliminate the element of kicking. The feet of the following players could play a significant role in this year's tournament.


Leigh Halfpenny, Wales
"Leigh Halfpenny has declared his ambition to remain a contender for international honours with Wales after announcing his decision to play for Toulon from next season. The Wales and British and Irish Lion full-back says his move from the Cardiff Blues to Heineken Cup Champions Toulon is the right decision at this stage of his career. 'Having taken time to consider every option in detail, I believe the decision to move to Toulon is the best decision for me and my continued development as a rugby player and as a person,' said Halfpenny.... 'Toulon are fully supportive of my international desires and duties and I would like to thank them for this as it was an important factor in my decision'." - Planet Rugby
Owen Farrell, England
"The 22-year-old's steely resolve was evident in last autumn's QBE International against Australia, in which he scored 15 points as England prevailed 20-13. Just as impressive as his points haul was his recovery from a challenging spell when he missed three successive penalties and showed hesitancy on the ball to spearhead the fightback. It was exactly the temperament that England view as indispensable and the Saracens outside-half admits his mindset was shaped almost from the start. 'Keeping it together is something I learned pretty early on - when I started playing,' he said. 'Why should you let it affect you? You've got to move on. There's too much to focus on in terms of your next job. If you're focusing on what has just happened then you're not going to have a grip on the game and that's what a fly-half's job is. Irrespective of how a kick went, you've got to back yourself and go again. You've got to have a clear head and think about what went wrong, but then you've got to put it behind you and move on. I just get on with it'." - Daily Mail
Jonathan Sexton, Ireland
"Jonny Sexton has left his Racing Métro teammates and supporters wanting more as he signed off for Six Nations duty in style. The Ireland out-half put in an inspirational 74 minute shift for the Parisian side this afternoon as they rediscovered the winning touch at home and climbed into the Top 14′s Heineken Cup slots. Racing put four-time European champions Toulouse to the sword and recorded a much-needed 25-5 win. Sexton opened the scoring after five minutes at Stade Francais as he chased after a Jacques Cronje charge-down on a Lionel Beauxis clearance attempt. He converted his score to make it 7-0. The former Leinster man turned provider soon after as he drew his man and teed up teammate Mike Phillips for a relatively simple score. The move was sparked by a brilliant intercept and break by winger Marc Andreu. Additional penalties from Sexton made it 18-0 on the half-hour mark." - The Score
Greig Laidlaw, Scotland
"Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will head into this year's RBS 6 Nations determined to banish the disappointment of Sunday's Heineken Cup thrashing at Munster. The Edinburgh Rugby captain was left reeling after his side were beaten 38-6 in Limerick, in what was Laidlaw's final match before the 2014 tournament kicks off. The 28-year-old, who has also featured at fly-half for Scotland, could not prevent Edinburgh from slipping out of contention for a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter finals. And, after a break from competitive rugby next weekend, Laidlaw will return to Ireland for Scotland's RBS 6 Nations opener in search of a different outcome." - RBS 6 Nations
Morgan Parra, Maxime Machenaud & Jean-Marc Doussain, France
"Preferred at scrum-half were Maxime Machenaud and Jean-Marc Doussain as Parra continues to fight his way back from a knee injury sustained in the autumn. When asked if Parra could still play a role in the tournament however Saint-Andrew only replied: 'We will see'. But the former Sale head coach is confident that his squad have more than enough cover for the 25-year-old Parra, whose trusty left boot has helped him to 320 career international points. 'Morgan was still a replacement (Sunday's European Cup game between his side Clermont and Racing-Metro), he is still making his way back, and has not yet achieved his goal of being fully match fit,' said Saint-Andre. 'For the moment, we have Maxime Machenaud and Jean-Marc Doussain. We have confidence in both of them'." - RBS 6 Nations
Mirco Bergamasco, Tommaso Allan & Luciano Orquera, Italy
"Mirco Bergamasco's international career looked to be over after the 30-year-old fractured his kneecap during a Test against Australia in November of 2012. Surgery and a long recovery period followed for the experienced Italian winger. Bergamasco suffered another setback last summer when French club Racing Metro, whom he had joined in 2010 from rivals Stade Francais, decided not to offer him a contract extension. While his move to Italian outfit Rovigo in July was a step back in his club career, it served as a platform to return to the national team just six months later.
'coach Jacques Brunel told me that the door of the national team is always open and that it depended on me,' Bergamasco said." - The Independent

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