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Thurston hitting the mark at RLWC

A change in technique and a healthy dose of confidence have helped Johnathan Thurston maintain his brilliant goalkicking standards at the Rugby League World Cup.
Thurston hitting the mark at RLWC
by AAP

By Liam FitzGibbon

MANCHESTER, England, Nov 15 AAP - A change in technique and a healthy dose of confidence have helped Johnathan Thurston maintain his brilliant goalkicking standards at the Rugby League World Cup.

Thurston's goalkicking in dreadful conditions has been one of the highlights of Australia's campaign and his form is likely to prove a huge asset in the tournament's knockout stages.

The North Queensland five-eighth returns from a week off to face the US in Saturday's quarter-final in Wrexham following a spectacular goalkicking display in his last match.

Thurston made several incredible sideline conversions in driving rain and strong winds in a 34-2 win over Fiji in St Helens a fortnight ago, with Kangaroos coach describing it as some of the best goalkicking he had seen.

The 30-year-old also kicked some crucial goals from out wide on a slippery Millennium Stadium surface in a tournament-opening 28-20 win over England.

Already known as one of the most inventive goalkickers in the game with his ability to hook the ball, Thurston said he'd had to make further adjustments to deal with the testing UK conditions.

"I've had to change my style a little bit," Thurston told AAP.

"On those softer grounds you can't plant your landing foot before you kick because it'll just come out underneath you.

"So you need to keep your momentum running through the ball as you're kicking it.

"It's been very tough goalkicking but I've been pretty happy with it."

Thurston boasts an NRL career conversion rate of 79.35 per cent but he has endured several form slumps with the boot throughout his career.

"There's obviously been times when I've struggled with it but I just feel really comfortable goalkicking," Thurston said.

"I'm really confident with how I'm striking the ball at the moment and I just need to keep practising and putting the hours into it."

Thurston, who worked with goalkicking greats Daryl Halligan and Hazem El Masri earlier in his career, should enjoy more favourable conditions against the Tomahawks in a match kicking off at 1pm local time (0000 Sunday AEDT).


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