How sharpshooter Isaako overcame goal-kicking yips

Broncos winger Jamayne Isaako has revealed his fear of being fined for taking too long over goal kicks caused him to change his technique and miss conversions, but now he has gone back to his tried and true method as he aims to also rediscover his best form against Canberra.

Isaako, speaking in Brisbane at a promotion for the NRL’s Magic Round to be held in the Queensland capital in round nine, is yet to rediscover the form that saw him win NRL rookie of the year and take out the competition’s leading point-scoring gong in 2018.

Last year the 22-year-old told NRL.com that he gained confidence in his general play from his deadly accurate goal kicking where he was striking at 83%. This year it is back to 70.6%.

Isaako, Brisbane’s ice man in 2018, also had uncharacteristic mistakes creep into his game in the round three and four losses to the Dragons and Roosters where he tallied six errors.

"I am definitely not where I want to be and where I was playing last year, but it is only early rounds and I am still trying to find my feet. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks, and as the season goes on, I will find form again,” Isaako said.

Goal-kickers have one minute and 20 seconds to kick for goal once a try has been awarded and clubs can be issued with fines if their kickers take longer. That was playing on Isaako’s mind and he has taken steps to rectify it.

Broncos winger Jamayne Isaako.
Broncos winger Jamayne Isaako. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

"My technique changed a bit this year with the new rule that came in," Isaako said.

"It sort of mucked up my processes a wee bit so I have gone back to how I was kicking the ball last year. I think the main thing is sticking to what I know best.

"Now you don’t have much time as a kicker. That is what I was worried about in those early rounds. I was rushing it a wee bit and hoping for the best. The last couple of rounds I went back to what I did last year and it is working for me better.”

Isaako landed two from six against the Cowboys in round two but last week he landed four from four as he did a fortnight earlier against the Dragons.

A stickler for doing extras on his days off, Isaako said he had been working overtime to get his goal-kicking mojo back.

"I have still been doing kicking on my off days. I have been going down to Carina Leagues stadium with Mick De Vere and did a couple of kicking sessions with him. I go to West End, at Davies Park, and do a bit of my own stuff in the background," he said.

"I think being able to get that extra work in is going to go a long way towards helping me.

"It has been a tough few weeks for the boys and the club not being able to string a win together but I think collectively as a team we are heading in the right direction."

Isaako will be counting on getting a few wins on the board before Manly arrive in round nine for Magic Round.

"To have all 16 teams come to the one city and all get to play here at Suncorp Stadium our home ground will be an awesome week. We are looking forward to all the teams coming," he said.

Part of the festivities for the week will include Youi's Million Dollar Kick, where the NRL will select one fan from each club to represent their team and take a shot at a “magic target” and the chance to win $1 million.

Fans can also nominate a current NRL sharp shooter like Isaako to kick on their behalf.

"I tell you what," Isaako grinned, "if I get nominated I am getting 50/50."