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Rugby World Cup: Owen Farrell should have kicked that England penalty

By Isa Nacewa

Published 03/10/2015

Missed opportunity: England’s Owen Farrell did not get the chance to level the game against Wales
Missed opportunity: England’s Owen Farrell did not get the chance to level the game against Wales

As a goalkicker, I would have been in Chris Robshaw's ear last Saturday night, demanding to take that kick.

I couldn't believe England didn't kick it. Get level, then there's still time to win the restart and put pressure on Wales and maybe force another penalty to win it.

It wasn't an easy kick, but Owen Farrell is an exceptional kicker and it's one he definitely would have got.

I have been in that type of situation before, where you have a kick to draw or win a match. I got a sideline conversion for the Blues away to the Brumbies in Super Rugby when it was 15-15.

If you are goal-kicking, it's one look at the captain to say, yep, I'm taking the shot. If you're 100pc confident, you're good to take that kick. If there's any question, there's a high chance you'll miss.

You want to take control and win the game. You're not thinking about the consequences of missing. If those thoughts creep into your head, you're 50pc beaten already.

I remember an ITM cup final in New Zealand being decided by a kick on the sideline from a player that didn't want to take the kick.

You could tell. He didn't want to get to the ball, he was looking to see if anyone else wanted it. Sure enough, he missed.

When the pressure is on, you block it out by sticking to your routine.

You've got little cues to yourself - counting your steps on your walk-back, picking your spot, kick through the ball. Everyone has different cues, and they shouldn't change depending on the match situation.

You've got to keep your routine consistent, whether it's practising during the week, the first kick in a game or the crunch kick late on. It's not about the outcome, it's about getting your process right, kicking the ball right, and the outcome will take care of itself.

If you miss a kick, you can't let it affect your game. You get wiser with age, and you're able to put it out of your mind.

Your team-mates don't blame you when you miss one. You're in a strong team culture, and you know there's probably 14 other guys on the field that don't want to be taking that kick.

But it can take you a while after a game to get over missed kicks.

I was still feeling guilty after leaving six points on the field against Edinburgh - and that was the losing margin - a few days later, but by the following Thursday, I was getting good-natured stick about it from the kicking coach. That can be all it takes to get over it.

Something I found really hard to adjust to when I first came to Leinster was the silence. It's a massive difference between the hemispheres - in the southern hemisphere there's hooting, hollering, even cow-bells ringing in your ears every time you take a kick.

You can hear a pin drop, and it's a completely different mindset. I found it very intimidating. All of a sudden you've got a lot more thoughts in your head.

I found loud noise far easier to block out than the silence - it actually helps that you can't hear yourself think.

I used to think I would ask the Leinster supporters to make noise when I was kicking, but not any more.

You don't want to change an entire rugby culture. You just have to change your process, and you'll be fine.

Now I prefer the politeness here, because it shows such respect for the kicker.

Belfast Telegraph

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