Wests Tigers players identified defence and resilience as two areas which needed to improve at an honesty session that they hope can be the catalyst for claiming a place in the top eight with a win over Gold Coast on Saturday.
The Tigers were under siege before last Sunday’s 16-8 defeat of St George Illawarra, with officials forced to guarantee the future of coach Michael Maguire after just one win in the opening seven rounds.
Star five-eighth Adam Doueihi revealed that the players responded by coming together to talk about what had been going wrong and how they planned to turn their season around.
“Honesty builds clubs and we had some honest conversations, and picked out a few things we think we can improve,” Doueihi said. “Resilience was a big piece of that and obviously defence. They are the two things we are working on.
“You need to do stuff like that and those honest conversations are good to have. I know I took a lot out of it and the other boys did. We rested after that and came into training the next day and we were going pretty good.”
The match against the Dragons was the first this season in which the Tigers have held an opposition team to single figures and they did not concede a point in the second half.
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The previous weekend they had conceded 40 points against Manly, as they did in round two against Sydney Roosters, while Parramatta, Canberra and North Queensland had all put 30 or more points on the Tigers.
“We are building on our defence and we know we have leaked a fair amount of points in the first two months of footy so we are working on that,” Doueihi said.
“Defence is our main focus for the next few weeks and everyone has been turning up at training ready to rip in and work hard.”
The Lebanon international, who admitted he was still developing combinations with halfback Luke Brooks, new fullback Daine Laurie and rookie hooker Jake Simpkin after making the switch to five-eighth this season, said the speculation about Maguire had been disappointing.
“To see the stuff said about Madge hurt me personally and I know it hurt the boys, so we wanted to play for him, play for our club and play for our fans,” he said.
“You are only as good as your last performance so if we don’t back it up this week it means nothing.”
The Titans are currently in eighth position but if the Tigers win at Campbelltown they will join them on six points and could find themselves in the top eight for the first time this season.
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“We obviously have a young spine and new combos and we haven’t played much footy together but I think we are building nicely, we are putting in the effort at training and working hard on our game and where we can improve,” Doueihi said.
“I am building well with Brooksy, we are starting to find out each other’s games and know where we want to be.
“It’s knowing when to kick, when to run and who to hit, and when to link up with Brooksy or just go myself. I guess the more games I can get under my belt [at five-eighth] the better it is going to be but I feel like it is coming along nicely.”