Feldt learns from tough lessons
Little has been made of Kyle Feldt's return to first-grade three weeks ago, but the move has verified the maturation of one of the game's most talented young tryscorers.
The Cowboys winger is a man who now understands what it takes. The talent has never been questioned but the level of concentration it takes for a young player to stay switched on throughout the entirety of a game is something with which he has had to battle.
Seeing an improvement from Feldt over the past three weeks relative to performances earlier this year, Cowboys assistant coach Jason Demetriou says it has been a change in mindset that has brought about an improvement in the 23-year-old.
"I think he's matured a little bit but he's got an opportunity now and he's a phenomenal player, has so many attributes to his game and he's a real strike for us going into finals," Demetriou said.
"One mistake can cost your team the game and it can be quite brutal for a young guy to deal with, it's probably something that has cost Kyle in the past.
"Sometimes the harsh reality is that you have to be at your best every week mentally and players will make mistakes, but if you don't quite look like you need to be [confidence-wise], then that's what can let you down. Unfortunately the only way players learn it is the hard way."
The Cowboys have tinkered with Feldt's positioning, trialling him as a defensive centre but attacking winger at times in the past three games after Demetriou noted Feldt's aptitude in the position both last year at the Northern Pride and this year with the Townsville Blackhawks.
The move was not just a matter of a smooth transition for the Cowboys after Matthew Wright and Justin O'Neill played tandem for a couple of months, but it keeps Feldt closer to the action and more engaged.
"[The centres] is where he's better suited defensively," Demetriou told NRL.com.
"It forces him to talk and connect more with the boys inside him which stops your mind from drifting.
"Sometimes on the wing you can be in and out of the game and can drift on to other things, and once you make a mistake you have a long time to think about it.
"The closer you are to the action the quicker you have to get over it and get on with your job a bit quicker.
"We expect players to be at the level of 200-game veterans after four or five games in the NRL and it's just not the reality.
"Sometimes guys will pick it up quick and others take a little bit longer. Kyle has done it tough and he's had to earn his spot and he's cherishing it now."
Another mentor who has assisted Feldt's rise back into first grade is Townsville Blackhawks coach Kristian Woolf.
Admitting to losing focus and putting his head down, Feldt heaped praise on his Intrust Super Cup coach for training him to remain locked in.
"He has told me just to keep my focus when stuff goes against me," Feldt said.
"Personally I get really frustrated when calls go against the team and I let it get to me and going back [to ISC], calls did go against us and sometimes I let it get to me. He pulled me aside and told me to keep a clear mind really. I just took that in and it is working."
Woolf added: "I've known Kyle for a long time and he's a very good character and obviously an exceptionally talented player.
"We coach them still, as much as we can. We're not doing the skills and the Monday-to-Friday stuff necessarily. You help them out where you can and point them in the right direction where you can and you help them with their footy as much as you can as well.
"It's just that you're not full-time with them so you have a limited impact at times I suppose."
With three solid performances leading up to finals, Feldt has cemented his spot next to Justin O'Neill on the right wing for the rest of the season, and will this weekend look to match his two-try effort against the Broncos in Round 3.