Smith Insistent On Defensive Improvements

Smith Insistent On Defensive Improvements

Tony Smith has insisted that defensive improvements must be shown this week, and has been a clear focus for his side on the training field.

Club News

Tony Smith has insisted that defensive improvements must be shown this week, and has been a clear focus for his side on the training field.

After a disappointing effort against Salford on Saturday, the Black & Whites return to action on Friday night, taking on World Club Champions St Helens in Betfred Super League Round 5 action.

Previewing Friday night’s battle against the Saints, Smith said: “Defence has been the focus for a number of weeks. We’ve been trying to get into some systems and when it didn’t quite work, we got rattled. That’s what happens and you learn the hard way sometimes. 

“We’ve been practicing a lot and I think there’s some disappointment when you practice and then go to a match and don’t quite do it. Most sportspeople have experienced that and it makes your head drop. You then overthink and overtry at times and when you try to fix things up, you make things worse. 

“We’ve got to learn some lessons there. I’d like to think we will be better for those experiences but we’ve had a focus on our defence for some time now. We’re certainly working hard to address those issues and hopefully, we can take some steps forward this week.”

Smith added that his side must also focus on some of the finer details in their game.

“We’re looking at winning contacts, winning the ground, making the right decisions on who to take and when, what tackle technique to use, and what decisions they make. 

“We sit in review and discuss them all. They have a split second to make those decisions. We get to review it, rewind it, pause it, and dissect it. We sit down and freeze frame it and say what we would have done here given our time over, what we would do next time, how we are going to handle it and what is the best outcome and how can we practice that in order to get it right.”

He added: “We’re not taking anything radical here. It’s just different from previous styles that some players have probably been used to. There’s no dumbing down. There are no easy decisions to be made in rugby league. It’s much more complicated than we all tend to think. 

“We try to say it’s a simple game but there are a lot of choices to be made in split seconds, not just what sort of tackle but who and how to tackle. 

“Some of those things go astray when there are some decisions to be made. It’s complicated, but we expect our players to get those decisions right most of the time. That’s what we’re striving to do. We’re striving to get those choices right but sometimes it takes a bit of time. 

“It’s like making an adjustment on a golf swing sometimes. We think we’ve got it cracked and the next thing we’re back doing the things we used to do. That’s probably the easiest way I can explain it. There are no racial changes, just small changes that we are still to implement in the way that we want.”

“It’s just about practice for us and getting everybody on the same page and at the same time. We made some incorrect choices in the game last week and it threw us. We need to learn how to deal with that when it goes wrong and how to get back into the flow of things.

“I’m not trying to defend them, we’ve put our hand up, it’s not good enough, but it’s been and gone now. We need to move on now and we are. We’ve dealt with it, we put our hands up and we reviewed it. We now get ready for the next match.”