Coach's Box: No need to panic at 0-2
I used to use a saying when I was coaching about looking in control. You are like the duck on the pond ... smooth on top but underneath the legs are pumping. And no doubt for the three coaches without a win yet, the emotions are pumping.
You have to look calm and Rabbitohs coach John Lang appears to be struggling with that.
Judging on the first round you would have thought the second round would be easy for tipping ... but whoever wins the tipping competition this year is a genius. The second round results, with all the stunning form reversals showed, how open the competition is.
Round two really was about attitude, but as a coach there is nothing you can do about that. When the opposition is on, they're really on, which is part of the pressure when the competition is so even. It doesn't take too much to win or lose a particular game.
There lies the problem for coaches like John Lang (Rabbitohs), John Cartwright (Titans) and Ivan Cleary (Warriors) who are 0-2 after the first two rounds of the season.
They can't show their emotion at this stage because, being a close competition, it won't take much to get back up there.
And players feed off the coach. If they are negative, anxious or have any tension about them players run off that.
It's important for the coach to keep doing whatever they did in the pre-season. The players are more perceptive than you think. If the coach starts changing things now for round three the players will think he is panicking. It needs to be business as usual.
When I was at the Cowboys our trainer Billy Johnstone used to change up our training on a monthly basis. For one month it might be weights in the morning and training in the afternoon; the next month the opposite. But that would have been in the program and the change was because it was scheduled to happen not because he was panicking.
Likewise if things aren't coming together in the game, ranting and raving at half time is not going to fix it. If the team is doing their best you're not entitled to go off at them, regardless of who is playing who - even top of the table against the bottom of the table.
The Sharks-Dragons game on Monday night is a good example... with the team predicted to win the premiership (Dragons) being beaten convincingly by the team tipped to finish near last (Sharks) after their first round thumping from the Raiders.
It's not as if the Dragons were not trying. They were just being outplayed by a better team, and there is nothing you can do as a coach at half-time. You just have to tell them the opposition are throwing their best at you in a hard game and to focus on tidying up a few areas.
You save your explosive sprays for when you are really not going well a bit later in the season, when someone has to aim up and tell them the truth. When they are undisciplined or messy, or you have a lot of players off their game, someone has got to say something and tell them it is not acceptable; "we have to do it better ... and it starts now".
The good Canterbury teams of yesteryear never had more than one to two players off their game at a time. The Dragons didn't have too many off their game on Monday, but the Sharks were dominant. Being premiers doesn't give you the right to expect to win. Every week will be tough.