St George Illawarra players will be well aware what will happen to their coach should they slump to a fourth-straight loss to open the season.
That’s why Paul McGregor has implored them not to think about the consequences when they face Canterbury on Monday in a battle of winless NRL teams.
Defeat for either side would ramp up the pressure already building on both coaches, with Bulldogs mentor Dean Pay also under fire for their sorry start.
Aware of his team’s crisis in confidence, McGregor urged his team to cast out the fallout of another potential loss when they arrived at Bankwest Stadium.
Only five teams in the NRL era have recovered in time to make the finals after dropping their opening four games of the season.
And only one team in rugby league history – the Newtown Jets in 1933 – have gone on to win the trophy from the same predicament, but that had been with no grand final.
Then, there’s the repercussions the defeat might have on the coach, whose side have lost 11 of their past 13 games, with both wins coming against Gold Coast.
“Sometimes, a group – when you haven’t won for some time – you play not to lose, instead of going all out to win and being fearless at it and not worrying about the repercussions from that,” McGregor said.
“That’s one way to look at it this week.
“And really have some pushback when we don’t get what we want.
“If we get a six-to-go against, a penalty and try, or repeat set, whatever it may be, we’ve got to push back, go the opposite way and stick at it when it gets tough.”
McGregor responded to his team’s limp performance against the Warriors last week by making a number of changes, including axing fullback Matt Dufty.
Corey Norman has been shifted to fullback, with Ben Hunt moving to five-eighth and 24-year-old playmaker Adam Clune being handed his NRL debut.