As if goal-kicking in the pressure-cooker environment of a Super Rugby qualifying final wasn’t tough enough, Brumbies captain Ben Mowen has upped the ante on Christian Lealiifano.
He owes his skipper two beers for every missed kick.
The Brumbies’ No.12 kicked goals at 78 per cent last season, rising to 88 per cent if you only count penalties.
But following off-season ankle surgery, Lealiifano has struggled to find that same rhythm, kicking at just 49 per cent in 2014.
After missing his first conversion attempt during their Super Rugby knockout win against the Western Force on Friday, Mowen pulled Lealiifano aside for a quick chat.
“I said `if you miss any more you owe me a schooner a kick’. He owes me about three schooners,” Mowen said.
But Lealiifano on Monday revealed the stakes have been raised even higher for Saturday’s qualifying final against defending champions the Chiefs in Canberra.
“We’ve just doubled it. We said double or nothing if (Mowen) kicked one from forty metres, and he just kicked it out there in training. So I now owe him six,” Lealiifano said.
Lealiifano played down suggestions his right ankle was still the source of his kicking concerns, saying it had become more a mental issue.
“It’s something I’ve got to work hard at – mentally trying to relax,” he said.
“But when the boys are running over scoring tries you do relax a little.
“I feel as though I’m hitting them well, just need a little bit of luck.”
Bets and jokes aside, Mowen is confident his side’s go-to kicker will soon rediscover the form that has won both Super Rugby and Test matches in recent years.
“You just keep handing him the ball because you trust him – he’s won so many games off the back of his boot,” Mowen said.
“His best kicking is just about to come.
“If he missed every kick all year and starts getting them now that’s perfect.”