North Queensland veteran Ben Hannant says his side needs to improve their attitude after a shaky start to their NRL premiership defence.
The Cowboys were upset 20-16 by Parramatta on Saturday, their first loss since the qualifying final defeat to Brisbane in last year’s finals series.
Far from the hard-nosed, gritty side that broke through for their drought-breaking NRL title, Paul Green’s men were sloppy with the ball, poor with their discipline and outmuscled by an enthusiastic Eels on their own home turf.
“I just think it was concentration. At 63 per cent completion (of their sets), it’s an attitude thing,” Hannant said on Tuesday.
“Parramatta played extremely well, they got through their sets, found their spots and finished their sets off well.
“For us, we’ve just got to stick to what we do best and build pressure. Unfortunately we didn’t build any pressure, and any time we did, we let them off.
“Hopefully this week we can build a bit and capitalise on it.”
The Cowboys face the winless Sydney Roosters at home on Thursday night before a blockbuster grand final rematch with the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium the following week.
Hannant said the short turnaround was a blessing in disguise and that a strong start against the Roosters, who have lost to South Sydney and Canberra in the first two rounds, will be crucial to stopping the rot before it becomes a bigger problem.
“You know when you don’t play your best, you’re pretty keen to get out there as soon as possible,” he said.
“You can build a lot of confidence if you get off to a good start, but vice versa, if you don’t complete your first couple of sets it’s quite easy to get deflated.”