By Liam Grimley
Ahead of tomorrows crunch game against the Vipers, we spoke with Cowboys Defensive Co-ordinator Mark Beattie to get his thoughts on the season so far as well as tomorrows game.
From a defensive co-ordinator standpoint, how would you evaluate the beginning of the season?
"I've been relatively pleased with how we have started, we have looked energetic and stingy but I am under no illusions that we have still a long way to go and to improve - that can only done by hard work and commitment from each and every player and coach."
What are our priorities going into this Sunday’s game against the Vipers?
"Priorities are always the same. We have done as much homework as we can on our opponent and we will be as best prepared as possible. My keys for the defense are Aggression, Discipline and Commitment. If we stick to those then we can do what we intend to, although the Vipers will no doubt be a very tough opponent as they always have been. This will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing opener like we were last game as well. A wounded animal is something you have to be wary of."
What are the areas that you have seen that need amending on defense?
"To be honest, every area. I will never settle that we are perfect because if you do, you will be shown up very quickly. Both in a run and pass defense we can improve, we need to make sure we are aggressive in our attitude and disciplined in our scheme. Trust our team mates that they will carry out their responsibilities and be there to back one another up and we will be okay."
Our injured reserve seems to me piling up, any update on our fellow Cowboys?
"We have had a few injuries like you say but that is the same for each team and it is quite simply the case of 'Next Man Up'. This sport is very much team orientated as if you only worry about your starting 11, you're going to become unstuck very quickly. I have confidence in the rookies within the squad as well as others who will be able to step in and make the transition seamlessly."
Due to the amount of injuries sustained, do you think the league could do anything to better protect their players?
"Not really, this is an impact sport and injuries are going to happen from time to time. You know that any time you throw on that helmet to take the field. As coaches we need to make sure we are looking after our players both with injury prevention, injury treatment and teach proper technique to try and minimise the risk of injury. As a league the only thing we could do is to try and educate coaches more in that regard with how to minimise that risk through workshops and courses."
Finally, there is a fair stretch of away games coming up for the team, how do you think we will cope, especially those coming back from injury and rookies, with the long journeys?
"We have had an early run of home games and will now have a run of road trips but to be honest I quite like road trips. It gives the guys more time for team bonding and you really find out who we are as a team when you travel away from home so I'm relishing the opportunity. Also away games means we stress less about the field set up etc. so that's nice too. Lastly, the journey home can be a great occasion (only if you manage to earn the W)."
Search By Date