WEEK by week improvement is Luke Douglas’ aim as he gets to grip with life in Super League with Saints, writes Mike Parsons.
The 30-year-old Scotland international is still feeling his way into plying his trade on the other side of the world to where he played 11 seasons with Cronulla Sharks and latterly Gold Coast Titans.
“I’m not that happy with my form,” he said this week.
“I didn’t have too much of a pre-season with the boys, so I’m still getting used to things.
“I played in the Four Nations with Scotland but I’d have loved to have had a bit more time to rip into weights and get the fitness base a bit better.
“But I’m coming along, I’m getting to know the players better but I still don’t thing I’ve performed to my best.
“I’m just trying to do my bit when I get out there and hopefully improve each week. Hopefully there’s more to come from me.”
He is finding a few differences in Super League compared to the NRL, while admitting a few more wins with the team would make life a bit better too but says he and his family do feel settled.
“The two competitions are fairly similar in some ways,” said the prop forward.
“The physicality is on par, a few of the rule interpretations are different such as the ruck being a tad slower - though at the weekend I found it quite fast, maybe it was because of our wrestle.
“Besides that it’s very similar. With that ruck being slower it allows the defensive line to get off and you don’t have too much time to pick out the man you’re running at.
“But generally the games are on par and I’ve been impressed.”
Although accepting Saints’ form has been inconsistent, he has been impressed by a number of his new teammates.
“I saw Matty Smith in my month in pre-season before the trials and was blown away by his calmness and his ability to tell the boys where to go and get around,” he said.
“Big Al’s been outstanding. He’s hard to handle and definitely a go-to player for getting the team forward, and Jonny Lomax’s professionalism and attention to detail is above and beyond a lot of guys I’ve seen in the NRL.”
But the consistency factor is what he and his teammates are working hard towards.
“We’ve been inconsistent this year,” he said.
“We’ve put in some great performances and then let ourselves down in other departments.
“If we can get on the same page and be working all together we can build on some consistency. That’s our goal.
“We started the season by not hanging on to the ball. Now, we’re up for some games and not up for others.
“We had a big couple of weeks, so I don’t know if it was then a fatigue thing against Salford.
“But we should be fresh this week, we had a few days off over the weekend and we’ve ripped into training.
“It’s just about getting the consistency. We have had players in and out, once we get the group together we’ll build some combinations.”
“It is a bit harder when you don’t have everybody available but other teams have to do that too and are winning without those combinations. We just have to keep pushing on and get through.”He is aware of fans having been frustrated by performances so far.
“The fans expect a lot, but saying that we’ve got a squad that should be doing a great job and coming up with more wins,” he said.
“Everyone’s putting the effort in, but it’s lapses in concentration and not getting the little things right. For example, the play-the-balls were way too quick at the weekend and they rolled through us.
“There are times in games where we’ve had chances. Against Salford, if the pass had gone in the front of Ryan Morgan he’d have got around Flash (Mark Flanagan). There’s half breaks, we’re going through, and then there’s a forward pass.
“If we can get little things right, we’ll get a few more wins.”
There have been good signs too, he feels.
“There’s a lot of good things to come,” said Douglas.
“It’s an important period now with Huddersfield and then the Easter weekend double. In the NRL you don’t do five-day turnarounds, never mind Friday and Monday.
“We’ll definitely be doing recovery and taking it real easy on the Saturday and Sunday.”
“It’s a earning curve for me. That’s a big weekend, a derby with Wigan on the Friday and then Castleford, who are in red-hot form, on the Monday.
“It’s been voiced to me by fans about hating Wigan and that we’ve got to beat them, so I’ll be doing my best to do that.”