Taylor shakes up Concord
Whether it's diets, stricter roles, or simply correcting a player on their mistakes, Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor has given Concord a massive shakedown since taking over in November – and the players are responding.
They only scraped home in their season-opener against the Titans thanks to a Pat Richards buzzer-beater, but the squad says there has been enough change in the post-Mick Potter era to be confident of improved results in 2015.
Prop Aaron Woods, made 32 tackles and a game-high 190 metres on the Gold Coast. But he says the revolution isn't measured in statistics as much as in a simplified role under Taylor's watch.
"I just want to do my job for the team. I suppose I had to do a bit more – we had one of our other front-rowers go down with a concussion, so I got a bit more game time," he said on Tuesday.
"He does a bit of pressure on myself and Keith [Galloway] up front, we've got to do a lot of things. But in saying that, when we defend, I still feel it's a lot easier. Knowing your role, it's a lot easier now."
Centre Tim Simona is feeling the benefits this year of Taylor's focus on minimising injuries. After a season disrupted by a hyper-extended knee and two teeth knocked out, they're changes welcomed by the rising three-quarter.
"He's very big on the injuries. I guess to prevent injuries, there's diet, he's massive on diet. And we support that – it reduces injuries and the boys have really jumped on board with it," he said.
"Little things like that – stretching, doing ice baths, all those one percenters, it reduces injuries. All the boys are really working hard this year and hopefully we can get the boys on the field for as long as possible. It's made me feel better. I wake up every morning clearer."
Woods, who made his Kangaroos debut in the last November's Four Nations tournament, described Taylor as a "good" communicator.
"If we stuff up, he'll pull up the boys. He doesn't make you feel like a goose," he said.
"He gets in there, lets you know where you went wrong, tells you how you can fix it, what not to do, and if we stuff up, what we can do to get ourselves out of that trouble. You know what I mean? We've got a plan."
But the biggest change, Simona says, isn't so much about the person holding the clipboard as it is about the players taking the orders from him.
"It's all on the players, players are more aware this year because in the past few years, we've had the [biggest] injury toll in the competition. Everyone's more aware this year," he said.
Centre Chris Lawrence, who missed last week's season-opener due to a groin strain suffered in the captain's run, didn't train on Tuesday but is fighting to be fit for Monday night's home-opener against the Dragons in Campbelltown.