Taylor's Tigers overhaul on track: Tedesco
He can't bring himself to look at the Telstra Premiership ladder but Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco says the Tigers transformation under coach Jason Taylor is well and truly heading in the right direction.
Up against the Roosters and Storm in the coming fortnight, the prospects of a first wooden spoon in the club's history could well rest on their Round 23 meeting with the Knights at Campbelltown Stadium but Tedesco says they refuse to consider coming last.
Unquestionably one of the brightest minds in the game, Taylor spoke after Sunday's loss to the Broncos of trying to rectify tackling deficiencies that have plagued the club for years. The Tigers have made the finals just twice in the decade since their premiership triumph in 2005 and although fans will find little consolation in the results of 2015, Tedesco is adamant that Taylor is putting the right structures in place for future success.
"I don't really look at it that much; don't really want to I guess," Tedesco said of the Tigers' current position at the foot of the ladder. "We don't want to focus on that and we don't want to focus on the scoreboard.
"'JT' is putting a big emphasis on performances and not worrying about the result because it's getting to that time of the year where we're dropping lower and lower and we don't want to keep emphasising that and looking at the ladder. That will just put us in a more negative mood.
"He's come in and changed a few things and obviously it's taken a bit of a while to get that where we want it to be but we're all confident and we're all positive where JT and the club is heading. Our heads aren't down.
"We speak about the fact that people outside this club don't really know what we're doing inside the club and as long as everyone inside the club, the players and staff, are all positive that's the only thing that matters for us."
In the team that lost 42-16 to the Broncos last week having scored 16 unanswered points after half-time to get back within 10, Pat Richards (33) was the only member of the backline over the age of 26.
With the exception of Kevin Naiqama the other five backs were all 23 years of age or younger with two 20-year-old halves in Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks.
Moses scored a slashing try instigated by a Tedesco flick pass from a kick return in the 52nd minute and the dynamic No.1 said that Taylor has released the shackles in recent weeks and allowed their natural instincts to come to the fore.
"At the start of the year we had a pretty strict structure to stick to and that probably wasn't Mitch's game," said the 22-year-old City Origin representative.
"Over the past month or so JT has started to let the reins go a bit and let Mitch and 'Brooksy' play a bit of footy and that's sort of the game they played when they were growing up. That's how they play with confidence and you see the best of Mitch and Brooksy when they are allowed to play footy and when they eye guys off and play some ad-lib footy, playing off offloads and short sides and stuff like that.
"We had to get that structure right at the start and now we know it off by heart we can start to work things off it for Mitch and Brooksy to play with."
Six of the seven tries the Tigers conceded against the Broncos last Sunday came in the last 15 minutes of each half and Tedesco conceded that staying in the grind with the competition's top teams is a lesson they are learning the hard way.
"We're a young team so we don't really have that experience when we're in those grinding situations where we can just keep going at them," said Tedesco, whose battle with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will be one of the highlights of Friday night's game against the Roosters.
"If something goes wrong we drop our heads and the more games we play together the more confident we'll get and the more experience we'll have in those situations.
"We are positive, we do play with confidence, it's just doing it for the 80 [minutes]."