Wallabies won’t name kicker

Robbie Deans and James O'Connor are refusing to give anything away when it comes to who will be kicking for goal for the Qantas Wallabies this weekend. [more]

Wallabies won’t name kicker

Robbie Deans and James O’Connor are refusing to give anything away when it comes to who will be kicking for goal for the Qantas Wallabies this weekend.

The first Test against the British & Irish Lions is now just over a day away but the Australians are keeping their cards close to their chest ahead of the Suncorp Stadium showdown in Brisbane.

Leigh Halfpenny looks certain to take on the role for the Lions having landed 22 of his 23 shots so far on tour, but things aren’t quite so straightforward for the hosts.

O’Connor could well be the man handed the responsibility of keeping the scoreboard ticking over but the Wallabies have a lengthy list of options within their starting XV and matchday 23. Full back Berrick Barnes, inside centre Christian Lealiifano and replacement back Kurtley Beale are all experienced kickers and any one of them could be asked to step up on Saturday.

“You’ll see on the weekend!” was Deans’ cagey response to the question at a pre-match press conference at a Brisbane city centre hotel.

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“We’ve got any number of blokes who can kick goals. We didn’t used to have many, we’ve now got four or five.”

O’Connor wasn’t any more forthcoming, either, even though he has enjoyed kicking for the sticks for the Rebels so far this season.

Instead, the 22-year-old playmaker insists he and his team-mates will be more focused on stopping Halfpenny from lining up too many penalty attempts given his previous showings for the Lions Down Under.

But O’Connor claims that whoever gets the nod from Deans in the first of three mouth-watering encounters won’t let Halfpenny’s fine form, the pressure of the occasion or the noise from the crowd affect their concentration in Queensland’s capital.

“There’s a lot of guys that can kick and have been kicking pretty well. The main thing is us getting the points,” added O’Connor, who insists every single member of the Qantas Wallabies squad is determined to make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Halfpenny’s been pretty magical with his boot at the moment so we want to limit his opportunities and make sure we take ours.

Goal kicking’s a very individual thing. It’s between you, a piece of leather and the goal posts. It’s all about your technique so you don’t let outside influences expose that.

“There’s a lot of emphasis put on how massive a World Cup is but a Lions series is only once every 12 years. It’s a massive occasion. You’re playing against the pinnacle of the northern hemisphere.

“Some of the best players in Australia haven’t had that opportunity. You have to be there at the right time. I’m pretty thankful that I’ve been given this chance – I guess I was born at the right time!”

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