Sharpshooter Gordon credits Taylor
Roosters fullback Michael Gordon credits the mid-season arrival of assistant coach Jason Taylor for his stunning goal-kicking form that has helped the Tricolours secure second spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder and home ground advantage for next week's finals showdown with the Broncos.
The veteran custodian has been one of the game's sharpest shooters over the years but there's been a noticeable improvement since Taylor re-joined the club's coaching staff in May.
Gordon slotted 23 goals from 34 attempts (68 per cent) in the first nine rounds of the season but has landed 43 shots from 50 attempts (86 per cent) since Taylor joined the coaching ranks ahead of the Round 10 win over Parramatta.
It's not as though the pair have tried to reinvent the wheel, with Gordon focussed on simplifying his approach and clearing his mind before each kick.
"He's been massive," Gordon said of Taylor's influence.
"I still work with Daryl Halligan but I've been doing a bit more one-on-one with JT. I think since he's been here I've probably been kicking closer to 90 per cent. He's been fantastic for me. I haven't tried to change anything, it's just been the way that I've focussed my approach on kicking and stuff like that so it's been really good.
"It's more the mental side of things. I haven't changed my technique or anything like that. It's probably more my thought process going into kicks.
"It's trying to keep things as simple as possible. I've always had a pretty simple technique but sometimes you over-complicate things and it goes back to narrowing it down to one or two things and staying true to that."
Goal kicking is a skill that most people take for granted, but given the Roosters have won 11 matches by six points or less – six of those by two points or less – it's clear how valuable his contributions have been in 2017.
If the Roosters had lost one of those games then they wouldn't have finished second, and at least three of those matches can be put down to Gordon's right boot.
The No.1 landed a pair of sideline conversions at the death to send their Round 16 game against the Storm to golden point – Mitchell Pearce did the rest with an absurd field goal – while Gordon has also landed clutch kicks in each of the past two games to clinch victories over the Sharks and Titans.
"Every time you kick a goal you're nervous, but with the game on the line, that stuff adds to the pressure," he said.
"I suppose that's when you've got to back your technique and back what you're doing and have faith in yourself. That's my job here so if it's on the line then that's my job to do it."
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was full of praise for his sharpshooter on Saturday afternoon after Gordon landed two tricky conversions to get his side out of trouble against the Titans.
"The first one I thought was really important. That first one from the sideline after his try was a pretty big one and then the last one, they're a bit tricky when they're 15 [metres] in," Robinson said.
"They're the ones that every goal kicker should get, but they're in an awkward spot. It's what Mick's here for, he handled the pressure well and he nailed it and he's done that really well for us this year."