Out Of Hibernation!
The Bears aren't playing on their spiritual home ground of North Sydney Oval until Round 7, but that hasn’t stopped the playing group stringing together four victories on the trot to begin the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership NSW season.
Like the playing group, however, the supporters have stepped up in the first month of the 2017 season and have travelled around the state to cheer on the Bears while they're waiting to return to North Sydney Oval.
While it’s not an ideal situation for the club, coach Ben Gardiner is incredibly satisfied with his players’ ability to overcome the adversity to win four games in a row, and credits the fans who have followed them from Wentworthville, to Blacktown, up to Newcastle and back to Liverpool.
“We’re off North Sydney Oval but we’ve prepared well for our away games, and we have made a few adjustments to make it a little bit better [than previous years],” Gardiner tells NSWRL.com.au.
“At the end of the day, it is what it is; you’re playing footy on a field with two sets of players, and while it’s nice to play at home, going away and winning is just as satisfying.
“We get quite a few fans who come and follow us, so we really thank them for their support because they’re travelling distances to get to the game every week for the first six weeks; the boys are really thankful for the support they’re getting.”
The Bears’ most recent win came yesterday afternoon against a Mounties side stacked up front with the likes of Dave Taylor and Dunamis Lui.
Establishing and maintaining combinations is a tough task for every club at this level, with teams doubling up results with being a pathway for the NRL.
Gardiner credits the South Sydney Rabbitohs for their willingness to allow their players to train with the North Sydney side during the pre season and throughout the week, which reflects their current position of second place on the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder.
“I put the first four wins down to working really hard and building a real togetherness amongst our team,” Gardiner says.
“At this time of the year you’re bringing players together from different squads, bringing players back from the NRL squad and also adding to the players from our North Sydney squad.
“Combinations are being worked on and we are improving them, so obviously there has been sacrifices from both organisations to ensure we’re able to do that around our training.
“That includes from the administration of both organisations back down to the playing group.”
Another major reason for the Bears recent run of success is the influx of young guns contracted to the Rabbitohs.
Tyrell Fuimaono and Cameron Murray both represented NSW in junior State of Origin matches last year, with each player standing out in their respective victories against the Queensland Under-20 and Under-18 sides.
Gardiner has nothing but praise for the pair, highlighting their importance to the side, but knows he might not have them in the side all season as there is a chance for them to make their NRL debut.
“With guys like that they come in with an improvement mindset, because they’re young and they’re up and comers, you deal with those guys differently to your seasoned NRL veterans.
“They’ve played a lot of under-20s footy, and are coming in to improve their game at different level of footy in the hope to make their NRL debut.
“Those guys work really hard - they ask a lot of questions, they question their own game and their own performance with a learning mindset so from my point of view those young guns are doing a really good job to get better.
“Obviously the better they get, the worse it is for us because they’ll probably move on to play NRL in the not-too-distant future, but that’s part of our role as a pathway to give them the opportunity to make them get better and state their claim for an NRL debut.”
The Bears aim to continue their dream start to the season this weekend at Chatswood Oval against the winless Wests Tigers.