So how’s the mood been this week after the heartbreaking 18-13 home defeat to Wigan Warriors?
It is as positive as it possibly could be, given the current circumstances.
It was always going to be a very tough challenge for us against Wigan, because of the number of senior blokes who were forced to watch from the stands .
But the effort and commitment from those who were out there the other night was absolutely outstanding.
It’s very rare that we’ve had to challenge those qualities in the past when we’ve had a full-strength side, and it’s good to know those qualities appear to be running throughout the club, with the way the young fellas stood up to the very sizeable challenge they faced against Wigan.
We said all week in the build-up to the game that we were going to see the future of the club in the next few weeks, and everyone who got their chance the other night stood up really well.
That’s something very positive we’ve taken forward this week.
You said straight after the game how disappointed you were to have lost the game. At the same time, how proud were you with the side’s efforts?
Pride was clearly one of the emotions we all felt.
And I think that was pride at the understanding that there are blokes in the squad that, regardless of how young they are, can do a job for us at Super League level.
My initial reaction of disappointment straight after the game was purely down to the fact that we should have won that game, which is probably the biggest compliment I could have paid to the players who were out there for us.
In the end, Wigan showed that sheer doggedness to grind out a win, and that’s a lesson we can learn.
But at 12-6 down midway through the second half we could have easily thrown in the towel, believing our chance had gone. But that didn’t happen, and I was proud to see that.
In the absence of injured captain Danny Brough, Jamie Ellis really stood up to the challenge of organising the side, didn’t he?
I was really pleased to see Jamie taking a game by the scruff of the neck and taking complete charge of what was going on out there.
There’s no doubt he was the beat half-back on the field by a country mile.
At the same time, it was a bit disappointing that in the closing stages when we were 13-12 ahead he opted to go for a crossfield kick rather than roll the ball into the in-goal area or bang over a second drop goal, which would have been ‘game over’.
Having said that, I’m not blaming him for the fact we ended up losing the game at all.
I spoke to him immediately after the game and told him not to get his head down because of that one thing.
On the night, he attained a level of performance required to keep us going forward, and he should take a lot of encouragement from the way he played.
But I don’t think Jamie was alone in taking the lead for us.
You have to look at the likes of Jamie, Leroy Cudjoe, Jermaine McGillvary, Ukuma Ta’ai, Ryan Hinchcliffe and Sam Rapira for setting an outstanding senior example for the younger blokes to follow.
They set the tone, and your Josh Johnsons, Nathan Masons, Kruise Leemings, Oliver Roberts and Sam Woods of the world were only too willing to follow suit.
And you can also include Jake Connor in that younger category as well, because you’ve got to remember he’s still only 21.
And how did you think trialist Jamie Foster played on his debut?
It was an encouraging start for him, especially as he marked the occasion with a try.
He may be new to our side and not played rugby league for well over a year, but he was still an important figure for us to have out there, given the amount of young blokes we had in the side.
While we do have some exceptionally talented young backs at the club, with teenage winger Darnell McIntosh an obvious example, we didn’t want to throw too many young and inexperienced players in at the same time.
Jamie is obviously a 25-year-old man and has played in two Grand Finals for St Helens, so when his agent contacted us the other week regarding his availability it was just what we needed.
His experience, particularly at this moment, is vital for us.