Alred helping everyone out just for kicks

David Llewellyn on a further style change that has benefited Andrew
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The Independent Online
The old adage that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks does not apply to Rob Andrew. Late in 1993, after missing a kennelful of kicks for London against the New Zealanders, Andrew decided to call on Dave Alred. Alred, a former American football kicker, who has since become the kicking guru to the world, has recently been helping Australia and he has also been recruited by France's Thierry Lacroix and Jean-Luc Sadourny. There is no doubt that he has been successful with Andrew: witness the famous 12 out of 12 against Canada last December which helped him equal Didier Camberabero's world record of 30 points in a match.

But what did Alred do? According to Andrew it was back to basics. "All we have tried to do is make the kick technically more efficient, by getting as much of the power not just through the ball, but straight through.

"The follow-through dictates the line the ball will take, and most round-the-corner kickers like myself, who come sweeping into the ball, tend to follow through round the corner and across their body as well, which is why so many hook the ball.

"What Dave has tried to do with me is once I have hit the ball, I try to follow through straight. I still approach from round the corner because that assists the power, but once I have connected with the ball I stay straight. It's basically like a golf swing. The natural thing to do is to swivel and continue the line, but as soon as your head and shoulders open up it becomes less efficient.

"With a right-footed kicker everyone says an around-the-corner kick on the left is easier because the hook brings it into a bigger target area, whereas on the right-hand side it's more difficult because you have less of a target. But the key to good goal-kicking is that it should not matter where you kick from because the line of the ball is dead straight. In simple terms that is what we have been trying to do.

"I think the improvement in my kicking has helped the rest of my game. It is still a bit of extra pressure and it may not always go well because you have to hold the technique." To that end Andrew spends a lot more time practising kicking during the week. Up to five hours, including a session on the morning of an international. No more dog day afternoons.

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