Tigers boss faces cruel relegation facts
FIVE games, five losses; bottom of the table with only two points; surely the only way now for Sedgley Park is up.
Tigers' Director of Rugby Tim Fourie and his charges are learning very quickly that there are no easy games in ND1; they are also learning that if they are to climb away from the bottom two relegation places, they will have to do it on their own, because there will be no helping hands from anyone.
Yet even after their latest set-back, the 20-43 reverse to fellow strugglers Otley at Park Lane, Fourie remains upbeat "I know the supporters have not been impressed so far, but there were positives to take out of the Otley game," he said.
"We know we can win if we get our game together, but we have to do it for longer than ten minutes. We need 80-minute performances.
"We know we can score at least 20 points per game, but we also have to be able to defend. It's no good running away from anything, we have to be honest and confront our shortcomings but in a positive way. Now is the time to start fighting relegation not at Christmas; let's not kid ourselves that's how serious the situation is."
So instead of looking to the next game - Leeds Tykes away on Sunday, kick-off 2.30pm - in trepidation, he instead prefers to look at it in an optimistic way.
"We have a number of former Leeds players in our ranks - Jimmy Ponton, Andy Craig and me for starters - so we want to go there and improve out of all recognition. After all everybody is expecting us to be soft touches, to get hammered, so we have nothing to lose," he said.
"We'll have two more Sale Jets coming in to join us on loan in prop Martin Halsall and second row Ben Lloyd, so we'll be aiming to make a contest of it "The least we will be looking for is a bonus point. No-one is expecting us to win but that does not mean we have to lose. We simply have to get stuck in; if we go down we go down fighting with our heads held high."
He also called upon the club's supporters to help lift his side.
"They pay their money and therefore have a right to a say, but all I ask is that they be positive. They have a role to play in helping us improve, but negativity does not help, encouragement does. No matter what people think, the players don't go out to lose, they go out to play the best they can and hopefully win every game."
One area he is targeting is togetherness."We can take a leaf out of Otley's book," he said: "They were gee-ing each other up all game, whether they were on the pitch or the bench. They showed that it's not about individuals but about the team. We have to show that same spirit because it wins Otley games every season and there's no reason why it can't do the same for us."
Another area is leadership. "We need the likes of Phil Jones and Jimmy Ponton to adapt their style of leadership. They both like to lead by example, but we now need them to lead in a different way. We need them to be more vocal and strategic in their thinking.
"They need to start taking a step back, using their experience to slow things down because we tend to fly at everything when as a group we need to be more focused."
Looking like being back in contention for the weekend are Chris Hall, Chris Wilkinson, Jamie Albinson and Gerallt Evans.
However, Fourie himself, who had minor knee surgery last week, and prop Gareth Roberts look extremely doubtful.