The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
Gary Zauner was a special teams co-ordinator for 13 years with the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals and has served a number of other NFL teams and players as a kicking consultant, working with 19 Pro Bowl punters and kickers.
Zauner, who in the 1980s helped convert Englishman Mick Luckhurst into a specialist NFL kicker, has recently worked with Australian Rugby League player Cory Patterson of the Newcastle Knights.
“Everything is coachable, including pressure,” Zauner said. “Anyone can kick when there’s no rush, just the same as anyone can play golf and putt from four feet. It’s when it’s to win the Masters that it becomes a little different.
“There’s the skill of kicking the ball, then the next thing is, can you do it under pressure? I would think from what I’ve heard about this problem it’s just a question of getting him used to kicking under this kind of pressure.”
Zauner did warn, however, that if Cipriani cannot get to grips with this aspect of the game, England should not waste too much time with him in the role.
He continued: “Like anything else in life, if you’ve got a guy that can’t make a pressure kick then maybe he’s not meant to be in that position.
“If you look at any athlete and they can’t handle a certain situation but they’re still a heck of a player, then as a coach you’ve got to say ‘well maybe we need another guy playing here’.”
The American echoed Callard’s belief that confidence was an important factor in the equation.
“Confidence is everything,” Zauner said. “Kicking, punting, quarter-backing, I don’t care if you’re playing pool, if you don’t have any confidence in being able to make the shot or the play, why have the guy out there? You don’t want a guy wondering can he or can’t he.
“I get players from colleges and the NFL who all of a sudden start missing and then they start wondering ‘can I make (the kick)?’.
“Their confidence diminishes because they’re doing something wrong with his technique. So you have to correct the technique or the mechanic, get them doing it right again and then rebuild his confidence, tell him how good he is.
“Confidence is everything to athletes.”