Stand-In head coach Tommy McGee admits Yorkshire Carnegie are struggling for motivation and confidence.
In what has been a turbulent season, Carnegie have won just four games in the league, two of those coming in the six Championship fixtures McGee has overseen.
They showed promise last month in twice pushing previously unbeaten Bristol all the way, but despite victory over Moseley last time out at Headingley, they took a big step back with last week’s lacklustre defeat at Doncaster Knights.
McGee believes last week’s performance owed much to a lack of both motivation to get up for the game, and confidence to believe in themselves.
“It’s easy playing in the big games, it’s easy to get up for those games and to be playing at your nine or 10 out of 10 level,” said McGee, who succeeded Gary Mercer in November.
“Before Moseley there wasn’t quite the spark that was needed before the game, compared with the excitement levels before a Bristol game.
“And that’s about the dynamic of the group, the emotional readiness, and we’ve addressed that this week.
“The one thing you cannot be beaten on is that bit of desire, that bit of attitude because no matter how good a player you are if somebody wants it more than you then it’s going to be tough. That’s pretty basic.
“For us it’s about finding that consistency within the senior players to say that if something doesn’t feel quite right today then something needs to change, whether it’s technical or tactical, or it’s emotional or mental.
“And it’s that mental aspect we were lacking against Doncaster and for me personally, I find that very disappointing.
“The players were really disappointed with themselves. A few things were said which needed to be said after that game.
“It’s not about keeping battering down their confidence levels because you can see that that’s still an issue.
“As much as I’m being positive and we’re trying to drive guys through, it’s been a turbulant season.
“But I won’t make excuses for that performance. There’s been some difficult conversations that players have had and we’ve got to be honest, we can’t shy away from that.
“We need to lift ourselves up and that’s the challenge we have this week.”
That challenge comes in the form of a Nottingham side who currently occupy fourth spot, 14 points better off than Carnegie who need to win tomorrow to have any chance of reviving their play-off hopes.
To that end, Carnegie have signed two players this week; Bath second row Tom Ellis and Bristol back Auguy Slowik, who starts on the wing tomorrow against Nottingham.
“We always had intentions of adding to the sqaud ahead of the registration deadline,” said McGee who has also handed a first start to scrum-half Sam Egerton. “We’ve got a pretty heavy injury list and we needed that depth and is great to have quality coming in.”