Penrith 2016 Season Preview with Jeremy Paul
by Paul Cook –
Last Year: 12th (2pts)
Ins: No specific player info released
Outs: Michael Bayssat (UK); Sione Pusiaki Fifita (Parramatta) and others
Overview – With Jeremy Paul:
“We’ve come a long way since October. First of all, we needed to do a bit of soul searching and accept where we were at, and we used the 454-0 combined grade scoreline against Eastwood last season as a reference point. Since then it’s been about trying to improve our attitude and work ethic for a start, and then building in structures in defence and attack and working on the strength and conditioning side of things. We didn’t really start with any base and we’ve got a long way to go but the guys are working really hard and that’s all I can ask for.
“We’ve been recruiting really hard but it’s very difficult when the club is in the position it is and there’s an unfortunate stigma attached to it. We haven’t won a game in two and a half years so it’s very difficult to keep players coming back and players who want to have a crack will go to other clubs. I think we’ve lost something like 43 players in the last few years so it’s a massive turnstile in regards to the numbers needed to be competitive across all grades and colts, but I’ve been able to pick up some really good players and we’re looking ok. Once we start building some momentum through the season, we can start to attract new players and go off the back of that.
“We want to create a new culture about ourselves, and the way that we’re perceived. We’re perceived as soft and a side that can be run over and that’s indicative of the scores the team had last year. But the beautiful thing about sport is that it allows you to come back a week later if you’ve had a shocker and turn the tables. For us, it’s a matter of controlling what we can, start moulding a side and working to the structures we’re putting in place and actually start producing footy players.”
Key Areas of Improvement:
“We want to play a game that is fun, we don’t want to play a game that everyone else is playing at the moment. I believe rugby is a bit boring to be honest, the way it is played with multiple phases, rather than throwing all your eggs in one basket. We just need to get our minds around the structures of the game. We’ve got the physical size to take on anyone in this competition, the problem is the motor inside everyone and putting the structures in place that they need to be able to flourish and use the skills that they have. Regardless of how talented you are, you’re never going to make it unless you have a strength and conditioning base and I was very strong on that to start off with. If you get them fit, give them the structural points of the game in regards to defence and give them an attacking game plan and add in the technical aspects of the set-piece, these guys can play.”
What are your hopes/expectations for the Emus in 2016?
“Rugby coaching, and coaching in all sport, is about producing the best players that you can so that they can go as far as they possibly can. When you create that and you can produce those type of players, the rest of it will come so I’m not results driven, even though it is a results-driven world. It’s about how long we can stay in the fight and about winning the contest. There’s 200-300 contests in a game, and if we win more than our opposition, we should win the game.
“This is a two-year plan for me, it’s not something that can be fixed overnight, but I believe we’ll be far more competitive this year for sure. We’re aiming for four-to-six wins and if we could achieve that, it would be unbelievable and it would give us something to build on for the following year. You can’t go into a season not chasing finals footy and look, we’ve got to start somewhere, so if we can build towards trying to get there and we’re competitive in each game, it’s better to have a higher goal than just saying ‘We only want to win four games’. Then you can do a season review at the end of the year and see where you’re at and what you’re missing and where you need to go to in order to achieve that goal the following year.
“We’re going to have a crack or I’m going to die trying – one of the two! Let’s see how we go eh?”