Darren Lockyer has implored Cowboys coach Todd Payten to take as many lessons as possible from his trying first month at the helm of the North Queensland club.
“When Todd took over at the Warriors, he was an interim coach, there wasn’t a lot of expectation on him there,” Lockyer said on Wide World of Sports’ QLDER.
“He did a really good job there at the Warriors, he goes to North Queensland where everyone loves their rugby league. They’ve come off some poor seasons, the Cowboys, but when you sign at a club it comes with expectation.”
The Cowboys have endured a horror start to their campaign, being well beaten in all four of their games so far, most recently a 48-10 pasting by the Cronulla Sharks.
“The first month, it would be very disappointing … it’s all a learning experience for him right now,” Lockyer said.
“Because at the moment, what you’re seeing on the field suggests it’s not about talent.
“They’re either not understanding the game plan that Todd wants from a defence and an attacking perspective, or you can just see – and I went through this with the Broncos the last couple of years – you just see the effort’s not there, which means something’s missing.”
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Payten’s start to his new club has been unique, most notably his public criticism of underperforming players – including superstar forward Jason Taumalolo.
“There’s pros and cons to it. As a coach, you want to build relationships with your players and sometimes the best way to build relationships is to have the player’s back,” Lockyer said.
“Criticism is needed at times, but it’s just what forum you do it in.
“This is a period where he’ll learn a lot … but what makes some of the really good coaches in our game is their relationship with their players.”
Lockyer said North Queensland’s defensive reads, in particular, left a lot to be desired.
“The bad decisions are coming from a lack of trust … I’ve seen it with other teams, it happened with the Broncos in the last couple of years,” he said.
“That’s what happens when you’re losing games. They talk about losing becoming a habit, you start to not trust the person beside you and it starts to snowball out of control.”