'Just like backyard footy' - Lealiifano
June 30, 2013
Christian Lealiifano prepares to kick the winning conversion © Getty Images
Christian Lealiifano approached the biggest moment of his rugby life as though he was just having a kick in the backyard with his nephews. The laidback 25-year-old showed nerves of steel to slot the match-winning conversion in the 77th minute of the thrilling 16-15 victory over the British & Irish Lions in Melbourne, but he said "I just [followed] the same process you do [every kick]".
"I said it during the week. I [try to approach it] like I was just kicking in the backyard with my nephews. "Obviously was a bit different tonight with 50,000 people screaming at you but trying to hear myself think was the hardest thing and then trying to go through my process, so I'm very happy that it went over."
Lealiifano's second Test appearance worked out a lot better than his debut in Brisbane, where he was knocked out cold in a tackle gone wrong in the opening minute. The Brumbies playmaker revealed he had celebrated making it through the opening minute on Saturday night, saying: "After the minute mark I sort of gave myself a bit of a fist pump so I was pretty happy when I got past the minute and just very happy to get the result."
The inside centre made up for lost time in Melbourne, kicking a perfect four from four in a strong all-round performance. "He's class," Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said of Lealiifano after the game. "He was remarkable on his debut, because it was [effectively] his debut, to deal with that sort of pressure as calmly as he did. He's clearly got a big future."
Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia said of Lealiifano: "I'm very proud of him, to show the composure and the discipline that he did to step up and take those kicks; I guess it shows what a good goal-kicker can bring to your side."
Genia, meanwhile, said the Wallabies had enormous improvement in them ahead of the series decider at ANZ Stadium. "We take a lot of confidence out of that game and knowing that we can still exploit a lot more opportunities out there," he said. "We exploited some and finally got a result in terms of a try, but I think we take a lot of confidence out of the last 30 minutes where we looked to play up-tempo rugby and really have a go at them."
Christian Lealiifano talks about staying cool under pressure
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