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Banks the Highlanders 'finisher' once more

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/06/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

Marty Banks has iced the two finest moments in Highlanders rugby history and he has no doubt which meant more.

Reserve pivot Banks slotted a high-pressure penalty to hand the southerners a 23-22 win over the British and Irish Lions, mirroring his heroic deeds two years earlier.

In the 2015 Super Rugby final, another bench cameo from Banks featured a late dropped goal against the Hurricanes to seal a maiden title.

Banks was buzzing after toppling the Lions but was clear-headed enough to know where it stood in the franchise pecking order.

"It'd be right up there but I don't think it would top the Super Rugby final," he said.

"That was such a long time coming and it was a childhood dream to win that."

Banks has been a revelation with his goalkicking this year, leading the Super Rugby accuracy charts.

However, his season record of 53 from 59 shots didn't provide any sort of confidence boost when he lined up his high-stakes penalty on Tuesday, 10m in from the right touch.

The use of a different make of ball on the Lions tour to what is used in Super Rugby only added to the nerves.

"Normally I get a little bit of right-to-left shape but these balls fly pretty straight.

"So I just had to be confident it was going to do that again. I had to aim inside the posts, which is a bit different for me."

Banks performed his heroics minutes after highly-rated English goalkicker Owen Farrell missed a handier penalty shot.

He reckoned his unerring accuracy this year was down to tutelage from Highlanders head coach and former All Blacks first five-eighth Tony Brown, who had told him to simply slow down. He had lost distance but improved his line.

The 27-year-old, who is headed to Italian club rugby later this year, would have no problem if he is remembered in New Zealand as the man who sunk the Lions, given the lofty status the tour holds.

"I was idolising Dan Carter in 2005 when he ran amok against them for the All Blacks in Wellington," he said.

"That was special, just being a Kiwi to watch. Back then I was thinking how awesome it would be to play against a team like the Lions."

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