Australia’s James O’Connor has used this hiatus from rugby during the coronavirus pandemic to improve his kicking, working with esteemed coach Dave Alred.
The 29-year-old recently shared clips on Instagram of himself working alongside the kicking coach, and explained how he had to rebuild his kicking style.
He said: “He (Alred) challenged me to break apart my whole kicking game and rebuild from scratch. Never easy for the ego to accept change, but it was a pleasure to be mentally challenged in this way.”
Alred has worked as an elite performance coach with competitors from a variety of sports, from golf’s Luke Donald to number of other international kickers such as Jonathan Sexton and recently Beauden Barrett.
Perhaps Alred’s most iconic pupil was former England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson, who stands as one of the greatest and most consistent kickers the game has seen, with a record haul of international drop-goals, and the second-most points in history.
The 50-cap Wallaby even said “No wonder Jonny Wilkinson achieved what he did in the game with this approach!”
Alred has been working with the Queensland Reds since 2018, but the entire squad may not have bore the fruits of his labour just yet.
In the absence of O’Connor earlier this season, Brad Thorn’s side lost narrowly to the reigning champions the Crusaders in Christchurch, in a game defined by bad kicking by the visitors.
Three different kickers failed to convert any of their four tries, spurning eight points which would have given them the win.
A revolutionised O’Connor may change the fortunes of the Reds in the future, who have had a mixed start to their campaign.
However, there is still a lot of uncertainty as to when the season will resume as a result of the pandemic, or whether this instalment of the competition will be abandoned entirely.
Earlier today SANZAAR released a statement in which they were critical of “misleading information and speculation” surrounding the future shape of Super Rugby.
View this post on Instagram
Been an incredible month getting to know and work with @alreddave . He challenged me to break apart my whole kicking game and rebuild from scratch. Never easy for the ego to accept change, but it was a pleasure to be mentally challenged in this way. His teaching style embodies much of the work I have been doing with @saviourworld in relation to power v.s. force, rhythm & flow. Learning how to apply these principles to the art of kicking has allowed me to re-examine the way I approach the game of rugby on a whole, as well as life. Less is more and power, will always, eventually, overcome force. I now at least understand what it takes to be a world class kicker, although there is an ongoing commitment to consistency that I need to meet. No wonder @jonnywilkinsonofficial achieved what he did in the game with this approach! Thank you Dave ?? @schoolofkicking @adidasrugby @adidaslondon @redsrugby
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