A candid Paul Green has told of the need to occasionally whip young charges Robert Lui and Kyle Feldt into shape at times throughout the season, but noted the improvement of both men as the Cowboys look to make a deep push into September.
While Feldt is locked in at the club until the end of 2017, Lui becomes a free agent after this season and is now playing to prove himself worthy of high billing in his next deal.
The former Wests Tiger has been building momentum since his positional switch from halfback to five-eighth in Round 16, but Green says his solid on-field form comes back to a recent change in attitude off the park.
"[Lui's development] has been similar to Kyle [Feldt]. It has taken me and Rob a while to get consistency on and off the field and I think Rob's got himself now where he understands his role in the team. He's certainly applying himself in how he prepares and I think it's showing in how he plays," Green said.
When asked whether Lui had needed to be challenged or it was a matter of self-realisation, Green added with a wry smile: "I've had many sit-downs with Rob.
"You'd like to think [playing for a contract is] a bit of added motivation for him. I can't speak for Rob but as I said it's really been important for him to find that consistency in how he prepares. We all know how much talent he's got and what he can do skill-wise but it's about preparing well and preparing consistently and hopefully he can continue to do that for the next five weeks."
The same rings true for 22 year-old winger Feldt. After an error-riddled start to 2014 in which he admitted to feeling the pressures of playing first grade, it took just four games to be relegated back to the Intrust Super Cup, where he has spent the best part of five months before returning last weekend.
Feldt took to the right corridor seamlessly last Saturday, scoring two tries and rag-dolling Souths stalwart Greg Inglis into touch in a feat of strength that had many rubbing their eyes and questioning what they had just witnessed.
But Green says Feldt's inclusion in the side is a result of the work he has put in over a longer period of time.
"Kyle sort of burst onto the scene last year when he got his opportunity. He's certainly got a great ability to score tries, but for him it was that consistency that has been a challenge for him. So he got his opportunity he made the most of it last week, the challenge is to back it up now week after week.
"I think Kyle's form in the Intrust Super Cup had been really good in the past month. He'd gone back there and worked on a few things that I'd asked him to work on. In particular I thought he was more consistent with how he prepared and I thought that showed in the games in the form that he played."
Looking forward to 2015, Lui is still a potential piece of the puzzle amid rumours of a move to Cronulla, but Green says consistency is what will most determine his chances of staying in the north.