CHANGING TIMES FOR THE TIGERS: SMART
By Les Muir
GUNDAGAI captain-coach James Smart knows the time is right for the Tigers to stop living in the past.
With Gundagai reeling from heavy losses to Young (44-16) and Southcity (50-10) in the last month, Smart feels it is imperative the team gets a makeover.
“We’ve been caught out trying to play the same style as we have in the past few years,” Smart said on Monday.
“We need to change our style to meet the changes in personnel.”
A dominant force in Group Nine for the last 15 years, Gundagai has made eight grand finals in that period, and captured an historic title in 2015.
This year, however, Gundagai looks a shadow of the team that was edged 22-18 by Southcity in the grand final last September.
And with Smart among the shrewdest football brains in the region, he has recognised the nine-try drubbing from Southcity on July 16 as the lowest ebb for his team.
“We were beaten by 40 points,” Smart said.
“We’ll look at changing things up this week.”
Forced to recall the horror thrashing from the Bulls, Smart had no qualms in admitting Gundagai was uncompetitive.
“We were beaten in every area,” he said.
“It’s obvious we need to improve.”
In contrast to the Wagga debacle, Gundagai nailed Southcity 24-22 in their earlier clash at Anzac Park on April 23, but the tide has definitely turned.
Gundagai’s armour has been pierced and the team desperately needs to regain confidence before the finals.
Heading into a clash with struggling Junee at Anzac Park on Saturday, Smart is convinced the Tigers can be reinvigorated.
“There are things to work on this week and we’ll be ready,” he said.
“We know what to expect from Junee but that won’t concern us.
“Our focus is entirely on us.”
Ten weeks ago, Junee took Gundagai to the brink before the Tigers escaped with a 22-18 victory at Laurie Daley Oval.
Junee has subsequently slipped off the premiership radar, while the Tigers have also lost some of their aura.
In recent week the Diesels have adopted spoiling tactics to combat a shortfall in players, a fact not lost on Smart.
“We know they’ll slow the game down as much as they can,” he said.
The return of barnstorming centre Damian Willis will be a plus for Gundagai on Saturday, but other new faces might also be ushered in.