TAREE City players need to start believing in themselves if they are going to worry the heavyweights in this season's Group Three Rugby League competition.
Captain-coach Todd Bridge made this observation as the Bulls prepare to meet Port City at the Jack Neal Oval on Saturday.
The Bulls are coming off a 50-12 thrashing from Wingham last week. They're now two wins from three starts. Bridge said attitude seems to be a problem with his young squad.
"We've played well in the games we've been expected to win,'' he said.
"But in the ones where we're not expected to win, the attitude seems to change.''
Bridge thinks this is a lack of self belief - perhaps a hangover from the fact the Bulls haven't been considered a major premiership threat for some seasons and haven't featured in a grand final since 2007.
We've played well in the games we've been expected to win, but in the ones where we're not expected to win, the attitude seems to changeTaree City coach Todd Bridge
He agreed that way it is shaping Wauchope, Macleay, Wingham and Port Macquarie are safe bets to be playing in the semi-finals. This leaves Taree, Port City, Forster-Tuncurry and Old Bar fighting for the fifth spot. So the Bulls can kick start their finals aspirations by beating the Breakers tomorrow. The Breakers have been a dominant side for several seasons but are having their struggles this year.
Jake Lauder has recovered from pneumonia and will start. However, Bridge has made a couple of positional changes to his backline.
He has moved Dean Mills from halfback to fullback with Lauder to partner Callum Wesley in the centres. Logan Wallis shifts from centre to the wing.
Bridge hopes prop Josh Northam will also be right.
"Josh trained on Tuesday night and at this stage he's 50/50,'' Bridge said.
Bridge has listed Northam on the interchange bench.
Northam broke a bone in his foot in the opening round clash. Fellow prop Broden Hamilton injured ankle ligaments against Wingham last week and will miss one or two matches. To cover for Hamilton, Bridge has moved Shannon Mullay to the second row, with Will Clarke shifting up to front row. Shane Morcombe, who has been impressive in reserve grade, has been named on the bench.
Bridge will also play.
"I was pretty disappointed with my effort last week and I need a few games to improve my match fitness,'' he said.
Bridge added that he wants to pick a starting 13 and stick with it for a few games unless injuries intervene.
"I think we need more continuity,'' he said.
"I've been shuffling a few players around - although that has also been to cover for injuries, but I'm hoping we'll be able to start with much the same team for a few games.''