<
>

Talking with Pat Richards about his prodigious boot

Pat Richards of the Tigers lines up a kick at goal. Renee McKay/Getty Images

Throughout his 115-game NRL career with the Parramatta Eels and Wests Tigers and ten years in the English Super League, Pat Richards built a reputation for wielding one of the most dangerous boots in the modern era.

Richards was not only notorious for his goal-kicking accuracy that saw him accrue over 3100 first-class points throughout his career, he was also feared for his towering goal-line dropouts and kick-offs.

Much like the great Hazem El Masri (2nd all-time in NRL point scoring), Richards credits his younger years playing soccer for his success with the boot in rugby league.

"I played soccer right up until I played footy... I started when I was four," Richards told the Talking with TK podcast.

"I think that's where I learned how to kick a ball.

"I was always a tall kid with long levers so my legs were long and I had a pretty good follow through... so I think that's how I could kick the ball pretty far."

Make no mistake, however, Richards understood the necessity of practice and commitment to his craft.

"I just loved kicking the footy.

"I'd do a fair bit (of practice)... the more you practice anything, like a golf swing, the better you are.

"I always remember doing it as kids, with mates, just going down and having a kick at goal".

It wasn't until his entry into the NRL that he began experimenting with his signature towering, swirling kicking technique that would eventually be feared by opposing receivers.

"Andrew Johns always tried these different styles where he'd kick off (by putting) the ball on the tee differently and the ball would move around like that," Richards said.

"In 2005 though, (Socceroos coach) Graham Arnold used to be our kicking coach at the Tigers, and he tried a couple of things on the tee about kickoffs.

"Basically he'd put the ball real flat and then instead of smashing it long, he'd do a short kick off where it'd only go ten metres but it would spiral.

"So it would pretty much go to where the chasers normally go on a short kickoff... but it would go maybe 20 odd metres in the air.

"We played around with that and put that into a longer kick.

"The longer you hit it, the higher you hit it, the uglier it is and then the elements come in with the wind and the rain... it makes it pretty hard to catch."

Despite its resounding success, Richards' kickoff technique is rarely seen in today's NRL - with the exception of North Queensland's Kyle Feldt.

"It's a decent kick - not many people try it anymore because you've got to play for percentages.

"A lot of coaches nowadays, they just put the blinkers on - they want it in the corner.

"Sometimes it doesn't come off, but when it does... I've got a fair few results out of it".

For the full interview visit Talking with TK Podcast