An undervalued skill that could be crucial at this year’s Rugby World Cup

Watching Colin Slade kick cross with his weaker left foot for James Horwill to score in his last big game last weekend warmed the hulls of my heart. Now you can book online tickets for Rugby World Cup to support your favourite players.

It was the Barbarians against England in Twickenham and the pressure was good. But you only have to admire moments of great skill in our game that seems to have been usurped by automatons and behemoths.

An undervalued skill that could be crucial at this year's Rugby World Cup
An undervalued skill that could be crucial at this year’s Rugby World Cup

Slade, who currently trades in southwestern France with Pau, will never be considered a great All Blacks player. But he played 21 tests and had several decisive moments, for example, to mark the winning conversion in Brisbane, while 2014 All Blacks beat the Wallabies in what turned out to be the last international Ewen ‘Link’ McKenzie as coach of Australia.

The only skill for which Slade scored better than anyone in New Zealand at that time was effective in kicking with his so-called weaker foot. It’s a rare skill, rarely mastered, even at a time when professionals have more time than ever to work on their skills.

Some of the No. 10 greats were able to pass quickly and painlessly on their left boot. Jonny Wilkinson and Hugo Porta come to mind. Beauden Barrett is more than helpful from his left. The last game of Dan Carter as All Black was a straight conversion for the 2015 Rugby World Cup final. And yet he was not one to change foot easily, preferring to use his cunning talents and go under pressure or even do one of those killer banana kicks.

Slade, equally comfortable in the goalkeeper’s jersey, was as good as anyone at the highest level, and the magic of last weekend, missed by many, is a great example.

Simply, being able to stomp can save you trouble when you are under the pump or drive your team to attack with a long and precise grip. You can just see those first five years, or any return, that is not confident. They will try to get out of trouble, it means a disaster if the defensive line is disciplined.

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