DAVE Woods is determined to keep the pressure off his players as he bids to end his first season in charge of Gateshead Thunder on a high – despite a daunting schedule.
Despite losing the last six games, Woods has seen an improvement from his players in terms of the way they play the game, and knows a little bit of extra concentration would see more results decided in Thunder’s favour.
And with two games against one of the National Two’s leading lights, Celtic Crusaders to come – the first of which comes tomorrow, Woods isn’t expecting an easy end to the season.
“Celtic are obviously a really good side who have made no secret they want to be a Super League club – they’ve spent a lot of money,” said a coach who has seen his side come close to vital bonus points and wins in recent weeks.
“We have to go there and be real enthusiastic and work hard. Our results have improved even though we haven’t got the wins and while we want to get on with building for next year, we also want to finish this season on a high.” And with the feeling among the coaching staff the players have been putting too much pressure on themselves due to the play-off race being so close for so long, Woods isn’t about to heap on even more after what he admits has been a long season.
“We’ve had a few injuries anyway but we’ve been keeping it light in training and had a game of cricket the other day between the Aussies and the Brits – the Aussies won of course,” he said. “I just wanted to change the scene a bit and make sure the lads were enjoying their training. They need to enjoy what they are doing and not worry about being at the bottom end of the table.”
Woods will be without Tabua Cakacaka and Nick Hyde for the game which will be shown live on Welsh television station S4C, and the coach added: “Hyde’s injury is a big blow to us because he has been playing great the last couple of weeks.”
With the season nearing an end, Woods is not wasting time building for next season, with talks expected to start next week with players they are hoping to keep and targets from elsewhere.
And while Woods is happy with the way things have progressed off the pitch – in particular the Under-18s side which played and won their first match before Thunder’s home game last weekend – he admits he is stuck in a “Catch 22” situation in terms of helping to bring the fans in.
With CEO Steve Garside this week telling of his disappointment with the lack of decent crowds at the Thunderdome this year, Woods knows there is a slight onus on him to produce a winning team. But he is also adamant the fans need to turn up in order to help them attract players and bring in revenue.