Given Leigh Halfpenny’s magnificent performance from the kicking tee in today’s British & Irish Lions game we’ve decided to take a look at 10 of the best kickers currently plying their trade in world rugby. The below list is in no particular order;
After the disappointment of missing that monster kick against France in the Rugby World Cup 2011 semi-final defeat, Halfpenny has come back even stronger having focussed on his kicking in training. Since then he has around a 94% kicking success ratio as he ably demonstrated today in the Lions game. It is not just his percentages that make him such a formidable kicker however, he is well known for knocking penalties over from within his own half making him a key component in recent Welsh six nations victories.
Another 90% kicker with a howitzer for a right boot, Steyn has been absolutely integral for the Boks in recent seasons. A total of 486 points in just 42 tests (an average of nearly 12 points per game), Steyn has become an ever reliable points scorer for the Springboks, helping them claim several narrow victories in recent seasons. It is not just from the tee he is useful though, his drop kicking ability if often used to devastating results for both club and country.
Whilst Carter’s kicking stats languish slightly behind Steyn and Halfpenny at around 83%, his record of 1385 test points mean he is the highest points scorer ever in international rugby. Carter has been an essential component of the All Blacks dominance in world rugby over the past few years and looks set to continue kicking over penalties from all angles at least into the new World Cup. He’s also got some pretty tasty kicking techniques as well;
Known as the master by many, Wilkinson’s cool head under pressure led England to the 2003 Rugby World Cup after he calmly slotted a drop-goal in overtime. Known for his almost obsessive dedication to the art of kicking, Wilkinson is still displaying his talents in France as he helped Toulon to their first Heineken Cup recently. His 1246 points in test rugby also leave him second only to Dan Carter.
The Second Steyn on the list, François is included for his absolutely monstrous boot that has seen him become notorious for long range drop goals and 60m penalties. Although he might not be as lethal from the tee as some of the others mentioned in this list, his ability to score a drop goal from within his own half make him one of the most dangerous kickers in world rugby on his day.
In the run up to the 2011 World Cup Cruden’s kicking percentage was several points higher than team mate Carter’s and has continued in a similar vein since. He might not be the most spectacular kicker out there however his consistency has been key for club and country and at just 24 there is still plenty of time for him to improve.
Teulet’s average of 18 points a game for Top 14 side Castres helped propel the side to the Top 14 title this season. His record of 35 successful kicks in a row in 04 – 05 helps highlight the consistency. Another player who may not be notorious for his long range but it is the consistency of his kicks that make him such an important player for Castres.
Another players with a kicking percentage well into the 80’s who is also averaging around ten points a game. James has been a revelation since joining Cleremont in 2006 helping to provide them with some more consistency in the midfield. His accurate tactical kicking in open play is also an essential component of Cleremonts exciting backline.
Madigan has more than ably deputised for the injured Jonny Sexton this term having recorded a nearly 87% success rate in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 this season. Another youngster who remains calm under pressure, Madigan looks set to have a bright future for Ireland and Leinster once he steps out of Sexton’s shadow permanently.
Gareth Steenson’s prowess from the kicking tee this season has seen the Chiefs fly-half help propel his side into the Heineken Cup for the second year running. Steenson finished the seasons as the Premierships top points scorer having narrowly edged out opposite number Freddie Burns on the final day of the season.
The Brumbies fly-half is second only to Morne Steyn in terms of points scored in this seasons Super XV, a feat that means he could well be involved for the Wallabys this season as they take on the Lions later this month. The Brumbies currently sit as conference leaders thanks to the consistent boot of Lealiifano.
Who would you take as your designated kicker?