It can take time for a team to become a cohesive unit after an off-season overhaul like the one Michael Maguire has overseen at the Tigers but that was no excuse for their sluggish start to the season.
The Wests Tigers were competitive in the first half but fell away in their season opener against the Raiders in Canberra on Sunday.
They displayed signs of excellent scrambling defence in the opening period, but they were punished for cheap turnovers by a Canberra side that ran out 18-point winners at GIO Stadium.
Daine Laurie, James Roberts, James Tamou, Joe Ofahengaue and Stefano Utoikamanu all pulled on the Tigers jersey for the first time in round one but Maguire still expects the side to be winning.
"I think it’s a bit of an excuse, we’ve done a lot of practice to be able to put it out on the park," he said.
Match Highlights: Raiders v Wests Tigers
"At the end of the day, individually you’ve just got to make sure you look after the ball, so they’re areas we will look at."
He identified the first 10 minutes of the second half was the turning point in the game as the Raiders strangled the visitors out of the contest and dried up their possession stats.
"We didn’t help ourselves out in the second half at all, we definitely went away from a few things we’ve been practising and had spoken about," he said.
Roberts with an early nomination for pass of the season
"If you spend that much time tackling then fatigue comes into the game, that’s what we’re all trying to do to each other.
"The ebbs and flows of the game come back on you, but you’ve got to dig through those periods and come out the other side and we definitely shot ourselves in the foot with the things we did and we created."
The Tigers, who had two potential tries denied by the Bunker, missed 36 tackles for the game, a stat Maguire said could not be repeated against competition heavyweights like the Raiders.
"You’ve still got to make your tackles and do your job defensively and we did a really strong job in the first half when we had to defend our line for long periods of time," he said.
"But we put pressure on ourselves and we fought through that but we didn’t manage to do that early in the second half and Canberra were able to dominate and they went through the second half."
Laurie impressed on debut at fullback for the Tigers and the former Panther will only improve as he settles into the role at the club.
"He’s still finding his way, as you do when it’s early in your career but he saved a number of tries in the first half, he returns the ball with speed and I think if we create the opportunities with the ball I know this team can, Daine’s going to be a highlight in what we do," Maguire said.
Liddle breaks through for the opener
Second-rower Luciano Leilua brought plenty of aggression throughout the game, especially in the first 20 minutes as he looked to spark the joint-venture side.
He ran for 144 metres off 19 runs, made 33 tackles and recorded three offloads in a solid 80-minute effort.
"He’s really grown Luc, not just as player but as a strong character in the team," Maguire said.
"He’s a competitor and the way he gets around the park and his ability, the combinations with the players we’ve got, guys like Daine learning what Luc is capable of, the more opportunities they’ll come together. But we‘ve got to do that fast."
And with the red-hot Roosters their round-two opponents at Campbelltown next Sunday, there is even more of a pressing need to strike up those combinations quick smart.