New Harlequins coach Rob Powell gave an honest assessment of his team’s performance as they struggled to overcome Championship Leigh Centurions in their last pre-season hit out before taking on Catalans Dragons at Millenium Magic.
“Defensively we weren’t that cracking.” He admitted. “There are some things to iron out there. We knew there’d be teething problems, whenever a new team comes together there are always things to work on. We were changing blokes in and out there and we’ve just got to get back to what we’ve been practicing in the close season.”
“Luke has got that within what he does. He’s always a constant threat because he’s so quick, so he can come up with some stuff and put on some passes and plays on with Chad Randall. Both were very good and it really helps our team get along because Dorn is a constant threat with the ball.”
One time Keighley, Leigh, Wigan, Widnes and Wakefield second rower Ollie Wilkes also earned praise.
“I thought that in Ollie Wilkes second stint he was exceptionally good.” Powell added.
“I think we lacked a lot of experience up front, their props were actually a lot more experienced than ours and that showed in the way that the game was played, but I thought that Ollie took the game to them in the second half. It was probably a lot through his contribution that we were able to get through at the end of it and get a win. I was impressed with him.”
The rookie coach felt that his younger players found the game tough.
“Playing in the 20s doesn’t prepare them for playing against Leigh. That competition is a lot more difficult and our blokes will always struggle with that, about that step up. Even if they go on loan to London Skolars there is another big jump up to the Championship teams. A lot of those guys are just far more experienced. We struggled around the middle and if it wasn’t for Ollie Wilkes it would have been even tougher. Those guys have got a lot to learn, just to learn about the intensity of the game and just learning to deal with fatigue, which young players always struggle to do.”
“We are not where we need to be, but we’ve got a couple of weeks to practice some things and I think in a couple more weeks we’ll be ready to go.”
“If you’ve got a new team, new culture, a lot of new players, things won’t happen overnight. You can’t wave a wand in pre-season and everything is going to be perfect, it’s a building process and there were a lot of good signs. Offensively we were very good, we were strong and we are going to create a lot of tries and score a lot of tries, I’m sure that won’t be a problem with this team. What we’ve got to learn to do is have a bit more steel in our defence. With a couple more experienced guys in there it might have been a different story – that’s not an excuse, it’s just a reality. There’s a lot of work for us to do and we’ll be working on that in the next couple of weeks.”