Cleary keeping it simple for Tigers
Away from home and with the odds against them, Saturday's win against the Cowboys couldn't have come at a more important time for the Wests Tigers.
Ivan Cleary's advice pre-game worked wonders for the embattled side with an upset win in Chris Lawrence's 200th NRL game in the Telstra Premiership.
The simple message about wanting to play alongside each other was all that came from new coach Cleary, only a week into the start of his tenure at the club, and it paid dividends in the 10-point victory over the Cowboys in Townsville.
"When you have a few losses in a row you start to second-guess yourself," Lawrence told the media on Sunday.
"Ivan came in and tweaked a few things and just simplified the week for us.
"[The win] means a lot because I can now look back on that game with fond memories.
"You don't want to look back on milestone or big games and think of it as a loss or poor performance."
While the victory will ease some pressure on the team, the ongoing talk about where the "big four" of Aaron Woods, James Tedesco, Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses will end up next season continues to create the headlines.
A veteran who has seen plenty of former teammates depart the club in his time, Lawrence said the sooner the players came to a decision the better for all involved.
"All I would hope is that they would sort their futures out soon, which I think is in the best interests of all parties," Lawrence said.
"It's going to be a distraction while it is there and that is why the sooner all this is cleared up the distractions will go away."
Meanwhile, Wests Tigers lock Elijah Taylor has seen it all before with Cleary.
After previously playing under Cleary at the Warriors and Panthers, Taylor said the side was already starting to benefit from the coach's simple mentality leading into their victory over the Cowboys.
"The Warriors haven't made the finals since Ivan was coach and that was five years ago," Taylor said.
"Ivan came in and clearly said that he doesn't want to change too much and credit to him, he did nothing like that.
"That is genius, he has tinkered little things but mainly between the ears.
"At the end of the day he has told the players, 'if you want to be on the bus, be on the bus'.
"But if you don't, you have got that option to follow what you want.
"We asked ourselves before we ran out to be the player that other players want to be inspired by and play with.
"If we have everybody with that attitude and put the team first, defensively, we will be hard to beat and it showed in our scramble [defence against the Cowboys]."
The chance to string back-to-back wins for the first time in 2017 now awaits for the joint venture against a struggling Parramatta Eels outfit at ANZ Stadium on Easter Monday.