Halligan guides new Roosters sharpshooter
The Roosters unveiled an unlikely new goal-kicking sharpshooter at a soggy Allianz Stadium on Sunday afternoon, and after his stunning six-from-six afternoon Sio Siua Taukeiaho credited extra sessions with kicking coach Daryl Halligan.
With first-choice kicker Jackson Hastings having been sent for a spell in the Intrust Super Premiership a fortnight ago, many expected him to resume duties on Sunday when recalled in place of the injured Mitch Pearce but instead Roosters coach Trent Robinson stuck with his lock forward.
After a couple of serious shanks so far this year in his intermittent stints at the kicking tee, Taukeiaho had at times looked a long way short of being a regular NRL calibre kicker but last week's bye and some extra sessions with one of the all-time great goal kickers in former Bulldogs ace Daryl Halligan worked wonders as Taukeiaho nailed six from six – with three of those from the sideline.
His last effort – arguably the only one that wasn't crucial in the context of what had been a very tight game almost all afternoon – used the fierce breeze to start to the wrong side of the posts then arc back between the sticks, with Taukeiaho later laughing the breeze had helped him out.
"I've been doing a lot of practice. We just came back from the bye so I've been doing a lot of practice with Daryl Halligan," Taukeiaho told NRL.com after the win.
"I've been practising with him and it obviously showed in the game so I was pretty happy."
Asked to elaborate on what Halligan had helped him with, he added: "Probably just what I need to do is stay confident and stay relaxed and follow through with every kick and I think I did that today and I was happy with the result."
In one afternoon Taukeiaho upgraded his season goal kicking stats from three out of seven attempts at 43 per cent success rate to nine from 13 at 69 per cent.
"I was grateful for the wind as well, it was helping me get the ball through the posts," he smiled.
"I think it all comes down to practice but in saying that the boys played hard today and it was wet weather footy but we were able to stick to the style that we play and we were able to come away with the victory so I'm happy with the forwards and the boys.
"My boot kind of got heavy with all the water but I wasn't trying to worry about that, I was just trying to stay focused and hitting the ball in the right spot and I was able to get them all in."
The impressive effort off the tee capped a fine afternoon for Taukeiaho, who was part of a Roosters pack that put in arguably their best effort of the year, led by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in his first run-on start following three games off the bench since returning from a long-term knee injury layoff.
Waerea-Hargreaves churned through 254 metres and fellow starting prop Dylan Napa 201 while lock Taukeiaho ran for 72 in addition to making 30 tackles plus his goal kicking heroics.
"Jared and Napa were outstanding today, I was really happy with their performance. Both of them led us forward through the middle and we were able to get on a roll and it left everything for Jackson [Hastings] and Matto [Ryan Matterson] to control the boys around," Taukeiaho said.
The forward pack also earned the praise of coach Trent Robinson after the game.
"I thought Jared decided that he was going to go out there and target a few guys," Robinson said.
"[Our forwards] decided to bring some emotion at a couple of different occasion there to be physical. These guys around them were getting up off the line to try and put some pressure on the ball carriers at different times. They were very good, the front rowers."