First step to glory is make top four
March 4, 2012
Another year, another year older. I turned 27 last week but, I have to say, I feel young again. Or younger anyway. Much younger.
Mentally and physically, I haven’t felt this good leading into a season in a long time, maybe even ever.
In the past, I’ve never had a lot of time to refresh mentally, to relax, after a year of football. I’ve had four years in a row of tours, a World Cup, on top of pre-season training. But I’ve had a good six weeks off to recharge after what felt like a long 2011. The coach gave me a longer break than usual, which has worked wonders. For the first time in a long time, I was able to go home, not worry about training, and really freshen up. I came back to training a lot keener and ready to work harder.
I was willing to learn too. I listened a lot more, and tried not to argue with the coach too much. I feel like it’s really helped me. I could feel it in the trials. I was still a bit underdone in the All Stars game, but as the weeks went on, facing Parramatta and the Roosters, I found a bit of timing. I started to work well with Tim Moltzen. I think we’ll make a solid combination this year.
People might forget that ‘‘Moltz’’ has played some great football at halfback. It’s not like he will be playing his first game in the position today. Sure, he’s had a few great years playing fullback, but before that he was a pretty handy halfback. Training with him over the past few months I have been able to see that he’s got all the prerequisite skills.
Ditto James Tedesco, our new fullback. He wasn’t just handed that spot based on his performances in the Toyota Cup last year. He had to work hard in the pre-season. It’s a big step for a young player, all of a sudden walking into the gym with fully-grown men, but he has handled it well. He has passed all his tests; in the trial against Parramatta, he was a bit nervous, but he toughed it out.
Then in the second game, he took an early bomb, scored a try, and really flourished. He has earned his spot. I saw him play in the under-20s last year and it was clear to me then that he was a talent. But we’re not putting too much pressure on him to be anything more than he is right now. We just want him to do his job.
We’re also trying not to put too much pressure on ourselves. We are the favourites in the eyes of the bookies as well as many others, which is different to what we’ve been used to in recent years. We’re all confident we’ve got a good side, but we also know it’s going to take a lot of hard work for us to be successful.
The first step is making the top four, and that is what we are aiming for.
The job officially begins today, against the Sharks, and a couple of mates - Bryce Gibbs and Andrew Fifita, at Leichhardt Oval.
With Gareth Ellis announcing during the week that he would be returning to Britain next year, we have been given some extra motivation. Gareth has done more than his fair share for the team since he joined us. He has been one of our best players over the past few years. I can fully understand his reasons for moving back home, and I respect his decision. Now that it has been made, he can concentrate on this season, his final one with us. Honestly, he is the best forward I’ve ever played with, and we’ll miss him.
When you lose players, it hurts. And you want to send them off on the right note. But really, we don’t need any extra motivation.
I can’t believe how much Benji has matured over the years. I hope we all realize how lucky we are that he’s a Tiger.
Posted using RoarFEED 2012
Certainly, I hope he and this squad can do the job this year. Stay healthy (footy gods willing), stay focused and there will be another premiership.