By STEVE MASCORD
WHAT constitutes a slump? And how to teams get out of them?
North Queensland, St George Illawarra and Brisbane are three of which much is expected in our competition each year. Over the three weeks in the lead-up to round five, they had just victories between them.
All had wins over the weekend, relieving scrutiny and pressure on their coaches and players. It’s four years since a side with a 1-4 record has made the finals
“It’s more of a confidence thing,” Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough tells NRL.com in the wake of a 32-12 win over Gold Coast.
“Obviously, we’ve been copping it in the paper. It’s all part of the Broncos standard which is probably a good thing. It just comes with the territory.
“But we’re going along alright.”
Criticism can be used as a motivator, McCullough says. It’s down to the individual. “You can go either way with that.
“Hook (coach Anthony Griffin) is always on us about how good you’re going and how bad you’re going. You just believe what they (coaching staff) have to say. If they say something, you listen.”
The big area where the Broncos have improved? “Just composure. We’ve got to back ourselves. The games we lost … the Roosters put 50 on Parra, they beat us 8-0. Manly? We let ourselves down after leading that game. Melbourne, we went well there.
“So we’re not going as bad as people think.”
North Queensland coach Neil Henry said after the 30-0 shutout of Penrith on Saturday that it was a little early in the year to have “must win” games – but the Cowboys were at the point of “please, please win”.
“I wouldn’t say it was a good way (to win) but there’s points on the board, a clean sheet and that’s pleasing,” said centre Brent Tate.
“Sometimes you’ve got to win them like that to kickstart you.
“I just thought our ball control at times is still really letting us down. We put a lot of pressure on them defensively. We’re stil a little off with our attack but that will come.
“If we toss ball control like that up against good teams, you can’t hold them out no matter how good your defence is.
Tate doesn’t know why his men have hit an early-season wall. “You can’t explain that sort of thing, it just happens,” he says.
“The feeling I have is that we need to improve. I think that’s the feeling across the board.”
For whatever reason, coach Steve Price has borne the brunt of the Dragons winless opening three weeks. That turned around against Sydney neighbours Cronulla in round four and the revival continued against Steel City rivals Newcastle on Sunday.
At Sharks stadium, says five-eighth Jamie Soward, “we were under the pump and needed to come out and stand up for ourselves.
By STEVE MASCORD