Parker shows kickers how it's done

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 18/09/2012
Hayden Parker
Getty Images
NO TROUBLE: Otago’s Hayden Parker drills another goal at Dunedin’s covered stadium.

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Hayden Parker still can't fathom why the goalkickers struggled so much on his field of dreams on Saturday.

The Otago first five-eighth kicked 10 from 11 against Northland - the solitary miss at his final attempt - in his only NPC match on Forsyth Barr Stadium this season.

That wasn't long after he calmly nailed a 47m penalty on fulltime for Taieri to win the Dunedin club final on the same ground.

So why did accomplished kickers Morne Steyn, Francois Steyn and Aaron Cruden miss 10 attempts between them in Saturday's Rugby Championship test in Dunedin?

"I'm not too sure. I've heard a few guys say about the balls being no good.

"It's a bit strange really," Parker said.

"Every time I've kicked in there it's just been pretty normal. All the other grounds you're looking at the weather forecast wondering what you're going to get, and here you don't even have to worry."

Still, Parker agreed that Wellington scientist Brian Wilkins' theory had some merit.

Wilkins maintained the stadium's roof meant no natural turbulence, which meant any ball hit slightly off centre would fly way off course.

"The odd one you don't get right, it does swing a bit more than what it would outside.

"Last year when I had a game in there for Otago - I missed a few that day," Parker said.

Kicking with his left foot, Parker approaches the ball reasonably straight, with a minimal round-the-corner style, which Wilkins says reduces a kicker's margin for error in an enclosed stadium.

Parker's radar under the roof gets another test tonight when Otago host North Harbour.

The struggles of the more illustrious kickers certainly weren't causing him sleepless nights.

"I don't know if it's just a pressure thing, ‘I'm in the stadium I should kick well here', or something like that," Parker said.

"I know as a goalkicker you go through cycles and there's times you're not striking the ball that well.

"Maybe Morne Steyn is going through that at the moment."

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