Gareth O’Brien has revealed that some frank conversations with Brian McDermott in pre-season have forced him to up his game for the sake of his Toronto Wolfpack career.
O’Brien made his first appearance of the season in last weekend’s defeat to Wigan, having previously been left out of Toronto’s opening two fixtures in Super League.
And the fullback explained to League Express that McDermott pulled him to one side prior to the season beginning to explain how his position was under threat.
“Everyone wants to play every game, but it was the coach’s call,” he said.
“He’s had a word with me and explained there’s aspects of my game he wants me to improve on. That’s what he’s told me and I’ve got to get my head down and work on it, and show I can improve.
“We had a really good honest chat before the start of the year, and he pointed out aspects that he wanted me to implement which he’d not quite seen. He was very honest and told me to go away and work hard, which I am doing.”
O’Brien admits Toronto are facing a unique situation in battling through the early weeks of the season with so few numbers. They went into the game against Wigan with just 18 fit players – a figure which was made worse when Jon Wilkin pulled out minutes before kick-off.
And O’Brien said: “It’s challenging even doing things like opposed sessions in training. We’ve linked up with Rochdale and they’ve helped us in recent weeks and I’m sure that will be important. It’s unique and it’s tough, but we’ve just got to crack on with it. We’re not far off.
“Every team goes through adversity at some point through the year.. it’s just hit us a bit earlier than we’d hoped. There’s nothing we can do about it, and with the spirit we’ve got we’ll come through the other side of it. I’m sure results will come.”
On the 32-10 defeat to the Warriors, O’Brien insists Toronto can take heart from their performance in the opening hour – before a late flurry of tries took the game away from them.
“It was a disappointing result but for 60 minutes we were in a battle and I think Wigan will tell you that the final scoreline didn’t reflect how tough the game was.
“We’re getting there, we’re improving and no game is going to be easy so we’ve got to keep working hard and fix up what we need to.”