willow last edited by
Fresh start for old dog
Adrian Proszenko | September 20, 2009
STEVE FOLKES was with the Bulldogs for so long that he barely recognises himself in his new colours - black, gold and white.
‘‘It’s a little bit striking compared to the blue and white,’’ he said after donning his new apparel.
Folkes has become the high-performance manager at Wests Tigers but after spending the best part of his life at Belmore, he still has Canterbury blood coursing through his veins. Is he surprised the Bulldogs are only one win away from the grand final, despite finishing last in 2008?
‘‘Not really,’’ Folkes said. ''When you’ve got $1.5 million to spend you can go after the players you want. They’ve recruited well - the players that have come in have all performed - and they’ve had a pretty good run, injury-wise, which we certainly didn’t have last year.
''Winning breeds confidence and more wins - losing has the opposite effect. Last year we got further into a hole and the confidence was eroded more and more.
‘‘That made it difficult, when you lose games you should’ve won. That’s the way it is. If you looked at the squad there’s about eight to 10 different players. Some of the people we gave an opportunity, I’m pleased for. Guys like Gary Warburton, Jamal Idris - we gave them a taste of first grade last year with this year in mind.’’
The Bulldogs’ turnaround has certainly been phenomenal. A host of new signings reinvigorated the club, including Brett Kimmorley, Michael Ennis, Ben Hannant and David Stagg, to name but a few.
But Folkes, who believes the Dogs are as good a premiership chance as any of the finals contenders, is most pleased for the old hands who kept the faith during the dark times at the ‘‘family club’’.
‘‘I’m really happy for guys like Andrew Ryan, Luke Patten, Jarrad Hickey and Hazem [El Masri] and blokes like that,’’ he said.
''I’ve only seen the past six or eight weeks, but if you’re not directly involved you find yourself watching football with a bit of a different attitude.
‘‘I’m not necessarily barracking for anyone, you’re looking at different things. I wish them all the best and hope they can pull it off.’’
Folkes is happy to be back in rugby league. After parting ways with the Bulldogs, a club he coached for 11 seasons, he had a stint as a strength and conditioning coach with the West Indies cricket team.
So how will Folkes feel when the Tigers play the Bulldogs for the first time next year? He insists it will be ‘‘just another game’’.
‘’[Bulldogs trainer] Tony Grimaldi and I could get into it on the sidelines … perhaps,’’ he grinned.
Source: The Sun-Herald
tell timmy to get some props