British & Irish Lions
Praise for Lions' lucky charm
Sat, 15 Jun 2013 15:40
He is the ultimate professional
Head coach Warren Gatland said Leigh Halfpenny could kick the British and Irish Lions to victory against Australia after he totted up a record points tally against the NSW Waratahs.
The fullback slotted eight kicks out of eight - four penalties and four conversions - and also ran in two tries for a personal haul of 30 points in the 47-17 win, the Lions' biggest victory in 125 years of playing the Waratahs.
Halfpenny's figures overtook the 19 scored against the Waratahs in 2001 by England's Jonny Wilkinson, who famously drop-kicked the winning points in England's 2003 World Cup Final win over Australia.
The Lions' last series victory, in 1997 against South Africa, was also sealed by a last-gasp Jeremy Guscott drop-kick, following a gritty goal-kicking performance by Neil Jenkins.
"Previous Lions tours and World Cups are won on goal-kicking," said Gatland after Halfpenny's performance, a week before the first Test against Australia next Saturday.
"Apart from his goal kicking I thought some of his lines of running and his positional play defensively and kicking out of hand... I think he is playing at the top of his game.
"He is the ultimate professional. He prepares and does everything that you would expect of him. I thought again he was very, very good."
Halfpenny, who is being tutored by Jenkins on the current tour, now boasts place-kicking figures of 22 out of 23 and he landed all 11 attempts, many from acute angles, in the Lions' 69-17 win over Western Force.
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