How pleased are you that the tough Easter programme is now behind you?
Delighted is probably the word to use.
This time of the year really is a horrible period.
We’ve just had to play the Sunday before Easter (against St Helens) then Friday, Monday, Friday, and that’s got injury written all over it, so to come through it relatively unscathed is good news.
Obviously, the results over Easter weren’t perfect – it certainly wasn’t the plan to lose at Salford! – but this time last year we won all three of our games over this period but lost key people through long-term injuries.
This time we won two out of three and have avoided picking up any major injuries, and we’d have settled for that before the Easter programme got under way.
We’re now hoping we can kick-on and start to build some real momentum for the business end of the season.
Last year, we set off like a house on fire, picked up those injuries over Easter and lost our momentum towards the end of the year. That’s something we’re determined to avoid this time around.
After the Castleford game we gave the players four days off to help freshen them up, because they were all reasonably tired.
Hopefully, it won’t take too long before we see some positive results from this course of action.
Does the fact you ‘nilled’ a side for the third time this season last Friday (beating Castleford 24-0) mean your defence is better than ever?
I genuinely believe we’re not defending quite as well as we were this time last year. There are still some areas where there is room for improvement.
And, you’ve got to remember, that even though we did soak up a fair amount of pressure against Castleford last Friday, they did have a few of their key attacking personnel sitting in the stands and they would have made it even tougher for us.
As a result, we won’t be getting too carried away just yet.
Our attack is also still far from perfect.
As everyone saw last Friday, our ball control just wasn’t there at all, which was another indication that we’re not playing quite as well as we were this time last year.
Fortunately, you had David Hodgson coming to the rescue against Castleford with his hat trick against Castleford. How important do you believe he is for the team?
He’s a very good player, it’s as simple as that.
With Dave Hodgson, you know what you’re going to get every week, and a coach really can’t ask any more of a player than that.
He’s probably had just two average games since I’ve been here, because you can usually guarantee he’ll be good every week.
And against Cas the other night, he again showed that if you put him in the right position he’ll score for you.
All in all, he’s a good professional and a great player to coach and have at your club.
Talking of wingers, why did Jamahl Lolesi get the nod over Leroy Cudjoe on the wing last Friday?
Who plays and who doesn’t play is purely down to form, and based on the way Jamahl and Leroy played at Salford last Monday, Jammer got picked.
Jamahl’s been going reasonably well, and when Brett Hodgson returned last Friday, someone had to make way and, unfortunately on this occasion, it was Leroy.
Young Leroy has been a good, consistent player since I’ve been here, but he didn’t play as well as we’d have liked at Salford, which was a little disappointing because he’s had a pretty reasonable year to date.
But he’s a kid with a tremendous amount of ability and we all know he’ll make a positive contribution in the weeks and months ahead.
New signing Danny Brough has now had four games for you. How do you feel he’s fitting in and how do you feel his combinations with Kevin Brown and Luke Robinson are working?
Because Danny is playing in such a key position it was always going to take him some time to reach his full potential with us, but we are extremely encouraged with the way things are coming together.
He has some parts of his game that he’s going to need to have a look at, for instance his consistency and a few little areas in his game. Overall, however, Danny’s fitting in very well.
Kevin is another key player for us and is starting to benefit from having Danny around, while you always know with Robbo he’s going to give you 100%
Neither Kevin or Danny were at their very best against Castleford, but you can nearly always depend on Robbo on occasions like this to carry the can.
Another of your half-backs, Gregg McNally, has now returned to the club from Whitehaven – which can always happen as part of his dual registration deal – to enable players in other positions to move in at the Recreation Ground. So are you happy to have him back?
In terms of his continued development, this was the best course of action.
In the short term, he’ll have the opportunity to play a bit more footy with us, and it was good to have him back for the Under 20s at the weekend.
But there may be a chance for him to return to Whitehaven later in the year and play a bit more footy for them again.
Finally, you were very scathing of Rangi Chase and Joe Westerman, who were dropped by Castleford for disciplinary reasons last Friday, and how they let their coach, Terry Matterson, down. Is that a case of one coach sticking up for another?
I heard that Terry’s been copping a fair bit of stick from the fans over the way things have been going, but there are times when the coach takes too much of the blame.
The fans need to be taking a look at some of the players and their actions, and what these two players did wasn’t right for the club.
Sometimes coaches get too much credit and sometimes they get too much blame. The simple fact is that right now Terry is getting too much blame.
It was right for these two blokes to be stood down, because they had done the wrong thing.
If they actually just had a good go every week instead, then they’ll be good players and their club would be doing a lot better in the competition.