James Tamou has taken personal responsibility for Wests Tigers' inconsistent form and vowed to impose his authority more after a meeting with playmakers Luke Brooks and Adam Doueihi aimed at reigniting the team's finals hopes.
Tamou, who will return from a foot injury in Sunday's match against Canterbury, said it had been frustrating watching from the sideline last weekend as the Tigers fell 18-16 to the Warriors and he admitted the side lacked direction.
As the Tigers captain, Tamou believes he needs to show greater leadership and the former NSW Origin prop declared an end to the softly, softly approach he had adopted after joining the club this year from Penrith.
"I wanted to uphold standards and drive standards, but I couldn't come in and start yelling and things like that because I'm not going to get anyone's trust," Tamou said. "I have been in the team five minutes so who am I to tell these blokes what to do.
"We have got a young group, so it is time for me to put the foot down and go, 'hang on we haven't done anything yet. Let's understand what our job is and let's put 80 minutes of football together'.
"Looking at the position we are in, and looking at the team we have got, I know we can do things but there are things I have let slip for too long and I put that all on me. Being a leader and being the captain, I am not driving that home enough."
2021 Hard Earned Highlights - Round 20
With the Tigers sitting four points outside the top eight, Tamou concedes they need to win their remaining five matches against the Bulldogs (twice), Cowboys, Sharks and Panthers to make the finals, but he believes they are capable.
However, he said the only game in which the Tigers played to the best of their ability for the full 80 minutes had been their controversial 18-14 loss to South Sydney in round six.
After leading the Warriors 10-0 at half-time last Friday night, the Tigers conceded three tries in 15 minutes after the interval and Tamou said they had deviated from the game plan set by coach Michael Maguire.
"As a coach it would be frustrating watching that sort of football, especially when you are in the position we are in at the moment where we can't drop any more games," Tamou said. "The silver lining is how glaring it is.
"I put that on myself. We have obviously got a young leadership group and it is about understanding what needs to be done and knowing each other's roles. I think that was the most important part coming out of that game."
Tamou said the Tigers had been on the back foot in the second half after failing to complete their first three sets of six and fell away.
"In the first half we used the middle well, kicked to corners and things like that, but in the second half it was a bit all over the place," he said.
"I chatted with Luke Brooks and Adam Doueihi, and I just went 'look, that is basically how we have done it all year. We have played pretty good in instances of the game'.
"Let's just take this and really turn it around and understand the differences between controlling the game and trying to do stuff that we haven't really spoken about."
Every try from Round 20
Brooks, who had captained the Tigers for the first time last weekend in Tamou's absence, said it had been an honour but he was disappointed by the loss.
"We have a game plan and what we practice at training is what we want to do on the weekends but I feel that we didn't do that," Brooks said.
"If we had played in the second half like we did in the first half and built pressure we definitely would have won the game.
"I think we have shown glimpses of good quality football and I believe we have got some good young players coming through and they will learn a lot from the games we should have won.
"I think we are on the right track and it is just about finding that consistency and playing our best footy for as long as possible."