Game management key to Easts revival in 2018
New Eastern Suburbs coach Pauli Taumoepeau believes a smarter and more experienced Beasties outfit will be more than competitive in 2018 following a number of lean seasons at Woollahra.
Easts finished ninth last year and struggled on and off the field, after their newly built artificial pitch was deemed unusable just days before the start of the 2017 season.
Taumoepeau’s side will return to Woollahra Oval in 2018 and the former Australian Schoolboy seems confident Easts can challenge for a spot in the playoffs if they can improve their game management.
“Looking at the last few seasons, it’s probably fair to say that Easts have been a sixty or so minute side and struggled in that final crucial part of the match. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with fitness or ability, it comes down to decision making in that final 20 minutes,” Taumoepeau said.
“Morrow and DC (former coaches Craig Morrison and Darren Coleman) were able to build a really strong culture at the club and retain a lot of players. A lot of them are still relatively young, but they’ve got a few years of first grade under their belt already.
“Now we’ve got a really good group of core players that have been well coached over the past few seasons and I’m excited to see what we can do this year.”
The Beasties have added hooker Connell McInerney and backrower Dean Oakman-Hunt to their squad from the Canberra club competition and may get access to several Waratahs squad members throughout the year including Tom Staniforth, Lalakai Foketi, Alex Newsome, Mack Mason, Cody Walker and Ryan McCauley.
But Taumoepeau still believes the biggest improvements will come from within the current group.
“We’re spending a lot of time talking through situations and scenarios. If we’re in this position with 10 to go, what do we do?”
“I think a lot of teams probably don’t spend enough time working on the mental side of the game. If you’re three tries down with 10 minutes to go, someone needs to step up, take control and remind the group that they’ve still got plenty of time and these are the things we need to do. Alternatively, if you’re up three tries, someone needs to remind the group to relax and execute.”
The new artificial pitch at Woollahra Oval is expected to be completed by mid February and Taumoepeau believes playing at home throughout the season will help Easts’ grade and colts sides after they spent 2017 playing at various temporary grounds around Sydney.
“We’re a more resilient group after what happened last year, then we’ll add in those colts guys who will bring with them their success from last season and I think it’ll form a really strong playing group,” he said.
“My job is to build a stronger club, not just a stronger first grade team and getting these first and second grade colts coming into grade after playing in a grand final last year will boost our depth massively.”
Easts will host their first competition match at Woollahra Oval in more than 18 months when they host West Harbour in round one on Saturday April 7.