Ivan Cleary: Confidence is King on road to September

Placed precariously in the top eight drop zone, the Warriors are keeping their focus firmly on what needs to be done to hold on to their position. Big League magazine spoke at length to coach <b>Ivan Cleary</b> about the club's mixed fortunes in 2010, and the road ahead to finals football.<b> </b>Below is what Ivan had to say, as told to <b>Matt Encarnacion</b>.<br><br>I know the rugby league world is getting excited with the finals around the corner, but we haven’t accomplished anything as a team yet.<br><br>However in saying that, we’ve got a few players from the 2007-08 seasons who played in those finals. On top of that, we’ve got guys who’ve played for their country – so they’ve played in big games before. I’m not worried about a lack of experience in big games – we just have to get there first. At the moment we’re just thinking about our next game – and that’s against the Knights at home. They’re certainly playing well so it’s just another big challenge for us. We’ll just keep plugging away… <br><br>At the moment, everyone in the club is feeling good, especially after what was a pretty professional display against the Sharks last week.<br><br>Everyone went out there and did their job. We came there with a plan and everyone played tough and followed through with it. We just did what we needed to do, really. <br><br>It wasn’t so much a relief to get the win, but it was just a matter of getting our game together for a longer period. We haven’t really been building pressure in the last couple of weeks – or at least certainly not enough of it. The most pleasing thing about last week was that we fought for 80 minutes and came up with a pretty solid performance. If you do that most times in this competition, you’ll always give yourself a chance to win. <br><br>The biggest challenge for the team this year was to probably gain confidence after what was a disappointing season last year. When that happens, it’s important that you gain that pride back again. We fell into a hole earlier this year where we lost three in a row. That was a real flat spot for us and I guess that when you question how we’re going and how we’re doing things. But we’ve come out the other side now and the team is confident in how we play. The important thing is that they believe that – and that’s a good sign. <br><br>Personally, the biggest challenge I’ve had as a coach has been the travel issue for the team. Keeping the boys fresh through a long, hard year was always going to be a challenge and it will continue to be beyond this year. But our high performance team have been doing a great job. We’ve also had a lot of injuries this year and it’s really tested our depth. Looking back though, you can say that it’s been a real positive. We’ve got a squad now where we don’t really rely on individuals. Although certain individuals do things, we rely more on the whole team. We’ve built a squad mentality where we need everybody out there doing their thing. And it seems to be going pretty well for now. <br><br>I’m obviously very proud of how the team’s dealt with all the injuries. We have had a lot of fringe players that were asked to do a lot more than what we probably anticipated. When you get young guys having to play a lot of footy and have a lot more added responsibility, you wonder how they’re going to go, especially over a long period of time. But a lot of our boys in that area have done well. We’ve got a pretty young team and a lot of guys are still finding their feet in the NRL. <br><br>In terms of our halves, Brett Seymour’s obviously an established first-grader but he came in with some question marks. He’s had significant injuries that have kept him out for a long period of time too, and that’s been a challenge for him. At that time we had Isaac John, who played well for that period, and we won some games as well. Unfortunately for him he got injured. Then there’s James Maloney, who we can’t forget is still roughly in his first year of first grade, and he has been very good, I might add. <br><br>Our halves are important, but like I’ve said, our whole game doesn’t revolve around our halves too much. It’s a 17-man game and I’m happy with how a lot of our individuals have been consistent. If you have that, then sooner or later you’ll have a consistent team. <br>