The Waratahs' fly-half is kicking at 92.5% in Super Rugby AU. The secret to his success was watching a replay of an under-14s game

Super Rugby - AU
by Christy Doran

Forget about all the analysts and coaches in the world, all sharp-shooter Will Harrison needed during isolation was a replay of an under-14s match to find his kicking groove.

Before COVID-19 brought the game to a halt Harrison - in his first season of Super Rugby - had landed just 13 from 18 kicks at 72 per cent.

Since Super Rugby AU got off the ground, he's kicked a staggering 37 from 40 at 92.5 per cent, which equates to 86 per cent across the entire year.

They're staggering numbers and easily the best across Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa.

The explanation?

Going back to where it all began: the local park and whipping out the laptop of yesteryear.

"I didn't really do anything differently," Harrison told RUGBY.com.au, following his decision to put to paper for a further three years with the Waratahs.

"During isolation I just spent a lot of time mastering my craft.

"Growing up as a young fella I loved goal-kicking and I went down to the park every afternoon at Kensington Oval and was knocking them over.

"I think having that time during isolation because we weren't allowed to train with anyone, I'd just go down to the park for a couple of hours a day and put them through the posts.

"It's just reps.

"Funnily enough I was just chilling on my laptop at home one night and watching an under-14s game of mine just mucking around, and I was kicking them pretty well back then and I sort of noticed a slight little touch in my routine and my approach to the kick and I've brought that back into it and it's definitely helped me over the last couple of weeks for sure."

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Oh how to be young and have hours of spare time to trawl through the archives of games from the past.

Nor was it a mentor or kicking coach that helped discover his slightly different kicking technique.

Instead, the 21-year-old says the fear of having to buy coffees for his former Junior Wallabies teammates Ben Donaldson and Michael MacDonald, who are also in their first year at the Waratahs, has pushed him to become better.

"We love that competitive edge against each other, so we'll just go down and kick goals against each other and that rivalry, I'm a really competitive bloke at nature and I love winning, and each week just making sure that I don't have to shout them coffees," he quips.

So what's changed?

"The one thing I changed was just my hands on my approach into the ball," Harrison said.

"Before I was just putting them out, but I sort of dip my hands through my kick which builds a bit of momentum into my kick.

"It's really weird to think a subtle difference has sort of changed my kicking style, but I dip my hands through the ball which gives me momentum through the ball."

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A subtle change it might well be, but his kicking could well be a game-changer for the Wallabies in the years to come.

"Yeah I think every young kicking fly-half hopes to be someone like Jonny Wilkinson who just can't miss," Harrison says.

"Hopefully the guys just scoring the tries in front so I don't have to miss to many."

The Randwick product is the latest youngster to re-sign with Australian rugby.

Harrison, who was included in Dave Rennie's recent Players of National Interest squad, said he was excited to be staying in Australian rugby despite the uncertainty surrounding the code.

"(I'm) definitely happy to put my long-term faith in the code," he said.

"I love this club, I love rugby in Australia, I think it's got so much potential in the next couple of years.

"I've got a lot of things that I want to do as NSW and potentially at the Wallabies level and hopefully this will bring me forward to the next World Cup. I'm really stoked to be in blue."