Confidence takes a blow at injury-hit Tigers
You've got to hand it to the three poor Tigers who were up for the club's weekly chat with the media on Wednesday. After the disastrous past month they've had, the last thing they'd want to do is stand in front of a TV camera and put on a brave front.
But to a man, they all provided a telling snapshot of how dark a corner it is when the only prize on offer each week is pride.
One said it was hard to stay motivated; another said his confidence had nose-dived; while the third couldn't bring himself to call his return from Super League a complete success.
This, dear friends, is what it's like when you've hit the hump of the penultimate week of the regular season, you've given up almost 200 points in your past five outings, and you've got a casualty ward bigger than your season win total.
"The results speak for themselves," began centre Chris Lawrence.
"You can say we've had injuries or bad luck, but at the end of the day you're in the game to win and we've been losing and losing convincingly. We've been pretty poor."
The club veteran was speaking like a man who'd seen enough, had enough, and been through enough. Times like this you just want to puts the boots away and not have to open the box again until the start of summer.
"Look, it's hard when you're not a chance of the semis," he continued. "As soon as you're not a chance of the semis... that's what everyone plays the competition for, to be part of that last four weeks and hopefully get a shot at the grand final.
"When there's no chance of that, it does make it hard. But we've had a month of tough losses so our motivation is just to get a win on the board to raise spirits."
Cory Paterson rocked up just as optimistic. Having returned to provide depth and experience in a Tigers squad brimming with exceptional young talent, he knew he would have to fight for a spot on the team sheet every week.
He just didn't expect to do it on the wing, where he was hooked less than 20 minutes against a Bulldogs side last week that placed a red target on his flank.
"Obviously we're struggling a bit and they needed me on the wing but it's the cards we've been dealt. I did my best but got found out a few times on the weekend, which is pretty unfortunate," he said.
"I sorta filled in a few games before, through necessity of injuries. They gave me the number five and I thought fair enough, we'll see how we go here. I had to do my best for the team and try and do a job.
"Yeah, my confidence did take a hit. They scored a couple of tries down my side. I tried not to let it dent my confidence too much and just think, 'Hang on I'm out of position here'. But then I know I'm out here to do a job and I've got to do it. I gotta try and do a bit better this week I guess."
Another ex-Super League recruit, Pat Richards, blamed injuries half a dozen times throughout the interview, and then just as many times spoke of how important it was to finish the season strongly.
Never mind that the side has barely looked like winning since the infamous Farah-Potter-Tallis fiasco five weeks ago.
"A lot of people can say that, but at the same time, we had a lot of injuries at that time as well. I think that probably hurt us more than the coaching thing," Richards said.
"We just go out there trying to play footy and we've got guys playing out of position. It's quite hard to go out there and perform as well as we could've earlier on in the year. I think that had more of an impact than all that other stuff off the field."
That horror injury list, Richards said, was what kept him from calling his return to the NRL this season a complete success.
"At different stages of it, I'd call it a success. But I mean, it is what it is, everyone goes out there in our team trying to do the best they can," he said.
"I think injuries lately, we've struggled with that. Now it's about us moving forward and trying to finish off the year as well as we possibly can."