It is a sign of the confidence the Taranaki coaches now have in him that Frazier Climo is likely to be entrusted with the kicking duties against Wellington in the capital tomorrow.
While most pundits would expect Beauden Barrett to resume the goal-kicking duties after his long-awaited return from the All Blacks, all indications from Taranaki training yesterday point to Climo being handed the kicking tee.
And who could blame them?
With a success rate of 79.9 per cent during the NPC, Climo has been the go-to man for Taranaki, landing 28 of his 35 attempts. The only real blight on his record came against Canterbury when he failed to master the tricky conditions at Yarrow Stadium.
"Confidence is massive for kicking and I feel I'm in a good rhythm at the moment and my confidence is pretty high," he said. "I feel like every time I line one up, I'm going to bang it over."
The only thing likely to stop Climo from kicking at Westpac Stadium is a slight rib problem he attributed to kicking too much.
"It's more annoying than anything, but it should be right," he said. "I'll have a few kicks tomorrow to make sure, but we've got a pretty good backup if I'm not totally right."
A couple of 27-point hauls against Northland and Southland, coupled with four tries in eight games, has seen Climo lift his points tally for the NPC to 91.
"I didn't realise it was that high," he said. "It's all been a bit of a blur and I didn't think I would get close to 50 points, let alone 100."
Straight out of club rugby, Climo has adapted seamlessly to operating at NPC level, although his defence and finishing remain two areas to work on.
Anyone who has seen him play for New Plymouth Old Boys knows just how lethal his left-foot step can be, so it has been a surprise he has not pulled it out when in one-on-one situations this season.
"I'm saving it for these big games coming up because I don't want to give it away too early," he joked.
Having never played at Westpac Stadium, a long-time burial ground for goal-kickers, Climo was keen to get there today to glean some tips from Barrett because penalties could be a key to Taranaki's chances of upsetting Wellington.
"We know they have X-factor all over the park, so we have to be smart in the way we kick to them and not give them too much space."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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