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Westwood: We must 'rip in' from the start
SKIPPER Ben Westwood is urging his teammates to sharpen up their act at the start of matches.
He feels that settling into a rhythm quicker than they have been as well as cutting down on errors will help to improve the team’s attacking performance, starting at Huddersfield Giants on Sunday.
And, as joint captain with Michael Monaghan, he is prepared to set the standard for others to follow, something he was praised for by boss Tony Smith after the 12-4 home loss to Wigan last time out.
“In the first 15 to 20 minutes against Wigan they got on top of us a little bit and then we decided to have a go,” said Wolves’ England back rower.
“Question is, why is it taking 20 minutes or why is it taking something to happen that gets ‘our mad up’ before we start.
“Let’s start off early, get stuck into them, rip in, and it might work for us.”
Westwood was heroic with powerful surges and physical defence from minute one against the champions, with head of coaching and rugby Smith saying: “He’s remarkable, I thought his effort was inspirational to watch and he certainly doesn’t ever die wondering about what he can do to get his team across the line.”
Fans can expect more of the same from ‘Super Bennie Westwood’.
“I try and do my bit,” said the 32-year-old, now in his 13th season with Wolves after joining from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
“I was pleased with how I went against Wigan, especially with the ball. I feel big and strong at the minute and I’m enjoying it.
“But it’s about the team performing, that’s what I’m more interested in.
“And if I can play to my best and hopefully pull the others along with me then I’ll do it for us every week.”
Setting the example is his way of leading, with fellow joint skipper Michael Monaghan doing much of the talking, but he says he is developing in that area.
“I’m getting a little better with team talking before games and in the dressing room,” he said.
“And I feel I’m doing a lot on the field in terms of talking - trying to get people going.
“But I like to think my performances will hopefully lead the way and hopefully I can get the team to follow me in that way.”
He is happy with the way the team’s defence has improved in recent weeks and although he is fully aware of the attack misfiring at the moment he says he is not unduly worried.
“We went well down the middle against Wigan but then their were individual errors when we got into their half in an attacking position,” he said.
“We were dropping the ball on plays one and two, and it killed us. It’s draining with the extra defence at times. We need to keep hold of the ball and put plays on.
“As it was against Wigan, it sends everyone on to a bit of a downer – the team and the fans.
“We’ve got some hard work to do in attack and needs to get sorted. Luckily there are 10 days between the two games to do just that.”
He also wants the half backs to take a firmer grip of calling the shots on the field.
“We’ve got young half backs who need to take control a little bit more,” he said.
“Lee Briers had been here for a long time and took control. Maybe they need to look at how he did it and get some tips.
“But it’s early days, it’s six games into the season so there’s a long way to go. I’m not too worried just yet but we’ve got another big game against Huddersfield on Sunday and we need to get it right.”
Wolves have clearly got things right against Huddersfield Giants in recent seasons, having won the last nine meetings.
Westwood said: “They’ve always had a strong pack but in the past we’ve aimed up and that’s what you’ve got to do against these big teams.
“When you aim up early and take the game to them instead of waiting for them to take the game to you, it can make a difference instead of being too late.
“Hopefully we can do it this week, start in the first minute, and then I’m sure we’ll be all right.”
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