It’s going to be a very different day at the football for me in Townsville today when we take on the Blackhawks.
Not only are they coached by my older brother Kristian but my 20-year-old son Brent will come off the bench playing hooker too.
It’s the first time I have coached against either of them, so you can imagine some of the text messages from them this week.
Kristian and I are pretty close and speak regularly (except for the past few days) and catch up when we can. He’s been struggling with a bad Achilles injury since before the season started … and I’m hoping he’s going to be struggling even more at full-time today.
We know we have our job cut out, though. The Blackhawks have lost three in a row since beating the Cutters 56-12 in the opening round, which is probably not a good thing for us; Kristian will have them pumped up to end the streak.
We go to Townsville with pretty much a new team, with three players from the Titans squad fitting into the side which will be a real boost for our guys.
And we have some positional changes too. We’ve moved AJ Brimson to fullback where he has played plenty of football in the Titans under-20s and even in the NRL trials this year. At fullback he has more space to create something, and it takes away some of the organizational responsibilities.
Ethan Roberts, another Titans under-20s player last year, will come into the halves and he has good organisational skills, and can control the team really well.
We have Titans player Brendan Elliot in the centres as he plays his first game of the season because of injury and Regan Muir is back to take the other centre position. This means Kiah Cooper and Ryland Jacobs will go to the wings.
We’ve lacked experience in the forwards and it’s good to have experienced NRL players Leilani Latu and Ryan Simpkins back from the Titans – the first seasoned NRL players we’ve had in the pack this season.
Having Latu, Simpkins and Elliot drop back seemed to give the boys an extra spring in their step at training on Thursday. And Shane Gillham is back from a long-term knee injury to have his first run of the season off the bench too.
That gives us seven Titans squad members when you add Tony Mata’utia, Moeaki Fotuaiki, Brimson and Cooper. So, I think it’s the strongest team we’ve fielded this season, although we’re still missing Brayden McGrady who is serving the last week of his suspension.
Hopefully that experience will see us play with a bit more control and patience.
We know we have to start winning two after four losses although it’s more about putting ourselves in the position to win by being more consistent over 80 minutes and playing with more patience, and letting the scoreboard look after itself if we do that.
That was our downfall again last weekend against the Hunters in Port Moresby when we went down 32-18.
We were a little impatient and made too many errors – again. We controlled the ball well early, but the Hunters compete hard on every play, so they can find tries from nothing and that is what they did a couple of times. And they had some class in the halves too which made sure they had some good finishing touches.
In contrast, we have to stop trying to score from just about every set we have in the opposition half and instead need to just get through the set and look for a repeat set with a good kick and get them to tackle for another set.
Hopefully, that will start this weekend.