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Tough NRL baptism boosts Potter's resolve

Mick Potter admits his first year under the NRL coaching spotlight took a toll on his family but the Wests Tigers mentor says he'll be better for the experience.
Tough NRL baptism boosts Potter's resolve
by AAP

(Eds: Changes Taufua to Taupau in 17th par).

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Nov 6 AAP - Mick Potter admits his first year under the NRL coaching spotlight took a toll on his family but the Wests Tigers mentor says he'll be better for the experience.

Potter's debut season won't go down in Wests Tigers folklore, the joint-venture finishing second last on the ladder and losing superstar playmaker Benji Marshall to Super Rugby side the Auckland Blues.

Poor results led to speculation Potter was on borrowed time and he admitted it was a difficult time for him and his loved ones.

"You guys (the media) jump on social media boards and that's how it builds and a lot of it proves to be untrue," Potter said.

"That's the nature of the beast and I understand it. I am not happy about it and I wasn't happy about it then, but you deal with it.

"The by-product is that your family get worried about it as it's reported as fact that you are no longer in a job.

"You can't ignore it, but it affects other people around you ... it builds momentum when it's not true."

Potter was only given the job in late October last year and took over a club in turmoil following the controversial axing of Tim Sheens.

The 50-year had spent the last seven years working in Europe where he coached Catalans, St Helens and Bradford and admits it was tough taking over a team where he knew none of the players and none of them knew him.

"It was a bit of a whirlwind last season, but don't get me wrong I would have taken it a week later as it meant me getting my feet under the table at an NRL club," he said.

"It was tough for the players to get to know me as well. As a new coach coming in it's important for them to understand what I wanted.

"Building up a rapport with your players takes a little bit of time. I think I will be better fitted to move forward this year with a lot of the younger guys and the older ones too."

The Tigers are blessed with some of the best young players in the game and have won the last two Holden Cup competitions.

Potter has promoted under-20s coach Todd Payton to be his assistant, along with David Kidwell who has joined the club from Melbourne.

Payton's knowledge of the young guns such as Luke Brooks, Curtis Sironen and Mitchell Moses, who are all expected to feature this year, is a main reason for his promotion.

However, Potter said a lack of experience at the club last year when injuries struck was a major problem.

But he expects the arrival of Dene Halatau, Pat Richards and Martin Taupau next year to make a huge difference.

"From round three we were robbed with injuries and you can't lose key people, you have to have a buffer behind you," he said.

"You can't rely of young guys to hold their gloves up every single week, it's impossible.

"You need hardened players there and I think this year we are a bit better suited in that respect."

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