PORT Macquarie Dolphins coach Mark Champion is a realist.
He doesn’t sugarcoat things and he’s also a coach who will let his players know when they’ve performed and when they haven’t.
They didn’t get the results they wanted in two pre-season trial matches at the weekend, but he was left with plenty to work with.
Coffs Harbour and Newcastle were far too good for the young Dolphins who now know what they need to work on ahead of round one against Tamworth in a month.
“They realise how much tougher and physical state league is compared to training,” Champion said.
“We have a long way to go and we have to work really hard, but I was proud of the effort and how the boys stood up to the physicality especially from Newcastle.”
On one occasion, Jake Wallis “bodied up” against his bigger opponent and showed he wouldn’t be pushed around.
At the time, the Dolphins were being comprehensively beaten on the scoreboard.
“It’s really easy to get your head down when you’re getting flogged and start to say it’s all too hard,” Champion said.
“I’ve seen bigger sides than us that have folded against that sort of physicality.”
It’s really easy to get your head down when you’re getting flogged and start to say it’s all too hard.Port Macquarie Dolphins coach Mark Champion
Champion admitted it was more beneficial long-term for his side to have suffered losses in both of their games.
“We could have sailed through the weekend and had we managed a win I think it would have been bad for us and our development,” he said.
“The way I see it is that it’s good that it all happened how it did because we need to understand how hard it is to play in the state league.”
The coach conceded there would be times this season when the Dolphins would face a similar challenge to what they faced – particularly on Sunday against Newcastle.
“When teams like Newcastle smell blood in the water they come and get you,” he said.
“They’re the sort of team who want to rub your nose in it whenever they get a chance and there will be games where we’re going to get flogged this year.
“But if we keep putting in similar efforts to what we did at the weekend, it won’t be the case forever.”