ONE week is a long time in footy, especially after two straight losses.
So the fact Gerringong's Tariq Sims and his St George Illawarra Dragons teammates have had to stew on their season-opening defeats for two months has made them hungrier than ever to break their 2020 duck in round three against the New Zealand Warriors, at Central Coast Stadium.
"There's a really competitive vibe going throughout the whole camp at the moment - we've all ramped up the intensity," Sims, who missed the Dragons' 32-28 loss to Penrith through suspension, said.
"Sunday's session, in particular, was tough and it's really exciting to see everyone is just as desperate to secure our first win of the season.
"Every game we win is going to count much more in this tricky, shortened season, so it's imperative we set the tone early as a club."
Over the past few weeks, everyone involved in the NRL has made sacrifices but few would argue they've made more than the Warriors - who left New Zealand earlier this month before basing themselves in Tamworth and Central Coast, just to get the NRL competition restarted.
"The sacrifices the Warriors have made are incredible - to leave their families behind and be away from their loved ones for such an extended amount of time is a real testament to the whole club and they deserve plenty of credit for that," Sims said.
"It seems like everyone has a soft spot for them because the competition might not have gone ahead if not for their sacrifices.
"However, they've now been in camp together now for a long time and their comradeship will no doubt be stronger because of this.
"We know they are going to be desperate to win, after all they've gone through, but we are just as determined to win next week's match - it's imperative we put our best foot forward."
Another aspect against the Warriors is their mounting injury toll in the forwards - who notoriously are the biggest in the competition.
"I've heard Leeson Ah Mau has torn his pectoral muscle [ruling him out for four months], which will leave a huge hole in their forward pack," the Gerringong Lions junior said.
"Unfortunately for the Warriors, they do have quite a horrific injury toll at the moment but that opens the door for some of their younger players to have an opportunity to stake their claims in the side, while also impressing the everyone involved in the club including the fans.
"I've even seen the idea floated of players being loaned to the Warriors, which I support if it keeps the integrity of the competition going - the key is making sure players want to be there because otherwise, that can be toxic for their culture.
"Anyone who gets a chance to play in the NRL is going to try and represent themselves and their family the best they can. If you're a player who's trying to cut your teeth in this competition, then you'd be mad to not take this opportunity.
"Whoever pulls on the Warriors' jersey is going to wear it proudly and we definitely can't take them lightly - any side full of passion and desperation is dangerous.
"The NRL is such a tight competition and anyone can rock up on their day and win, meaning anything less than our best won't be good enough against the Warriors."
When the Red V returns to the field, they will be forced to make numerous adjustments, from no fans at the matches to a one-referee system to reintroducing the six-again rule - not to mention State of Origin being moved to the end of the year.
"We are already a very clean side when it comes to ruck control and giving penalties away," Sims, who has never played a club game under the one-referee system which was last in place in 2008, said.
"These changes are going to be difficult to navigate but also exciting for the fans, watching on television - there'll probably be a little bit of confusion in the first couple of weeks.
"You'll probably see a number of cheap tries scored until team's start to adjust to the rules and I'm sure there will be teams that will try and find a loophole in the changes.
"One thing I've figured out during my time in the NRL is that whoever adapts their attack and defence to the rules changes the quickest, are the ones that come out on top.
"From our end, we've done a couple of scenarios at training involving the six-again rule and ruck control, to keep us on top of it, which shouldn't be an issue with our mobile forward pack.
"In terms of the schedule, I believe the fact there will be no representative interruptions will be a real bonus for us, as that middle part of the season has really hurt us in the past.
"It should allow us to build our combinations each week, establish our roles and ensure we are all doing our bit for the benefit of the squad, which in the case of the forwards is laying a strong platform for our halves [Ben Hunt and Corey Norman]."
An integral part of that lethal forward pack are hookers Cameron McInnes and Isaac Luke - with the former using the break to fully recover from an MCL injury.
"Cam's reputation and presence through the middle is starting to grow and be well known around the competition, while everyone knows the resume Isaac has in our sport," Sims, who's Dragons side will play their home games at Campbelltown Stadium until at least round nine, said.
"Isaac is looking extremely fit at the moment and is doing a lot of work at training - hookers like him, once injected into the game, will take full advantage of these rule changes.
"His uptempo style suits us - we're all really excited to see what he can do when play resumes.
"I think the two of them complement one another well and make us a very dangerous side."
Sims acknowledges the main area his side have been focusing on, to give themselves the best chance of victory, is execution.
"We just need to execute in those clutch moments, down in the opposition half - that's a real key for us," the Kiama High School alumnus said.
"On a number of occasions, we'd dribble the ball out, miss tackles, drop the ball or give away penalties - letting teams off the hook coming out of their own end.
"A half a step penalty can give our opposition a 30-metre leg-up and so it's key we that we are rock solid during those pressure moments - allowing us to be rewarded with points and more importantly victories."