1968. Richard is 18, a socially awkward loner in his last year of school. He lives alone with his grandmother. His world in a cosy New Zealand town is about to change.
Colin Ashton, principal of his school, opens a letter. From an elite private boys’ school in Christchurch it invites his First Fifteen to play against theirs. The motive is easy to spot. The hosts desperately want an unbeaten season for their centenary.
Ashton’s underdogs – and that’s being charitable to them – are meant to lose. Yet he accepts. Daniel Eyles, the untried new First Fifteen coach, needs a goal-kicker. He turns to Richard, whose hero is the South African Springbok test winner ‘Tiny’ Naude. ‘Tiny’ had showed him he could be good at something – goal-kicking.
Richard’s lonely world is already being capsized. He’s fallen in love with Cornelia van de Jaeger, a classmate.
The Goal Kicker is not just ‘a blokey Kiwi rugby story’. Secrets are uncovered. There are betrayals. Truths and lies are confronted. So are pasts. Cornelia begins to draw Richard out of his self-imposed cave. But will he take up the challenge on the football field?