Joe Barton April 03, 2012
Wests Tigers centre Chris Lawrence admits all the criticism levelled at his underachieving side following their dismal start to the year is warranted, but says a change in fortune is not far away.
The Tigers entered 2012 as the outright favourites - a tag they disliked long before round one - and have been the NRL's most underwhelming side after five rounds, slumping to one victory from five matches to sit in equal last spot.
From that, they've been labelled overrated and soft but, far from getting upset over their latest appraisals, Lawrence believes the players have to accept that they alone are the only ones to blame.
"Definitely (the criticism is warranted)," Lawrence said on Tuesday.
"To be honest, our form probably hasn't warranted us to be any better than (one win from five games).
"... I don't think we're playing good enough football to win games. (But) I think we're not far off.
"And a lot of it is due to our own mistakes and discipline. We're putting ourselves under the pump too much in defence and having to make too many tackles.
"When you give quality opposition with good attacking players too much ball and too many chances to attack your line, eventually they're going to get through."
Lawrence said it was the responsibility of the team, rather than coach Tim Sheens, to change things on the field.
"There's only one reason why we're not winning games and that's because the individuals within our team aren't performing to their best," Lawrence said.
"If we get our individual form and our preparation right, then I'm sure we'll start winning games.
"... I think it's got to be a player thing. We're the ones out there.
"If we give a penalty, we've got to back up and defend that next set.
"It's something we've worked really hard on and we're conscious of, particularly in training the last couple of weeks.
"So hopefully, we can see an improvement on that."
Halfback Tom Humble said the team would feel the loss of second-rower Gareth Ellis, who will miss up to three months with a foot injury, but backed Liam Fulton to fill the void left by the English international.
"He's always a huge loss. He's one of our main attack weapons and he's going to be a big loss," Humble said.
"Liam Fulton is stepping in his place and look at the job he's done the last two weeks (filling in at hooker) for Robbie Farah.
"He's been inspirational. I'm 100 per cent sure he's going to make a difference for us in the backrow."
The Tigers did receive a boost however with skipper Robbie Farah returning after having served his two-game suspension for a dangerous throw, while Tim Moltzen (concussion) and Keith Galloway (foot) both trained.