The Maitland Pickers held a special training session and open-discussion meeting on Monday night to thrash out how to turn their season around.
Pickers coach Ron Griffiths invited his squad to discuss where they thought the team could improve, where they had dropped their intensity and any changes they felt were needed from the coaching panel.
Griffiths said the meeting had been positive and that the players were still confident of challenging for the premiership.
The discussion session followed a soul-searching appraisal post-match after the Pickers 28-26 loss to Mercury Shield rivals Kurri Kurri on Saturday.
The Bulldogs are in third spot after a win on 16 points with Macquarie Scorpions and Western Suburbs. The Pickers are fifth on 12, one point clear of Souths.
Griffiths said the loss had been disappointing and errors at crucial stages in the match had cost the Pickers dearly.
“Kurri was able to take advantage of the errors we made, but we made it hard for ourselves,” he said.
“We only completed 50 per cent of our sets in the first half, which is pretty uncharacteristic.
“I talked to a few individuals after the match and challenged them to be better.
“We’re at the pointy end of the season now and we have to turn things around. Souths are breathing down our necks and we have to start winning and string wins together.”
Griffiths said he didn’t believe expectations of a three-peat following the team’s back-to-back minor-major premierships in 2010-11 was weighing on his players’ minds.
“The guys are there to play footy and I think having a new coach and support staff really has taken the emphasis off winning three [premierships] in a row,” he said.
“I suppose from a supporters point of view it has a lot more emphasis.”
Griffiths said he did not believe the team had to change a great deal to get their season back on track and establish a winning expectation.
“We’ve lost four games by less than six points this season. We have been in games, even though I think we’ve still haven’t played that well,” he said.
“The last couple of seasons the team won those close games and it can play on your mind when things aren’t going your way.
“The guys are still confident of turning things around and meeting the challenge when it counts.”
The Pickers travel to St John Oval on Sunday to meet Central Newcastle, while Kurri host Wyong on Saturday.
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