No-nonsense coach Ryan Powell stamps Tigers

Helensburgh's Steve McCallum in action against Wests at Rex Jackson Oval. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Helensburgh's Steve McCallum in action against Wests at Rex Jackson Oval. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Helensburgh skipper Steve McCallum credits coach Ryan Powell's no-nonsense attitude for helping the Tigers move past last year's grand final heartbreak and surge towards the 2014 minor premiership.

Former Shellharbour mentor Powell was one of the league's more unheralded coaching appointments before season kick-off after the Tigers lost 2013 coach Ben Haran to the Dragons NRL coaching staff.

Just two weeks out from finals, he could lay a strong claim to the title of 'coach of the year' after steering the Tigers to 10 wins - including seven in a row - and just two losses, both away from Rex Jackson Oval, to sit on top of the Coal League with two rounds to play.

"When he first came in, he made it clear he wasn't going to take any crap. He had his way and that's the way we were going to do things and all the boys have really bought into it," McCallum said.

"It was a fresh approach. He left last year behind because he wasn't there and it was just a clean slate as far as he's concerned.

"Looking at our roster, people probably thought we were a bit down on the previous year but I think we're in a better position now than we have been.

"He has done a great job with the players we've got.

"He's really stamped his authority on the side and it's showing on the paddock."

Thirroul sit equal with the Tigers on 21 points, but the Burgh's far superior points differential would deliver them just their second minor premiership should both sides win their remaining two matches.

"We've been up there the last four or five years, so it is a goal ... We've only had one minor premiership in our history, so we want to make that two," McCallum said.

It'll be no easy task, with Wests welcoming back key personnel including forward leader Greg Reh and skipper Jason Ryles for what promises to be an explosive match

"Last time we played it was probably the most physical game we've played all year and we were able to grind out a good, tough win," McCallum said.

"They got us down there in round one for our first loss of the year and we weren't happy the way we played, so it was good to bounce back and knock them over in the second round.

"It's one-all now heading into a decider. We don't lose at home and we want to keep that intact."

Elsewhere in the league, Thirroul can seal a top-two berth with a win over Corrimal at Ziems Park on Saturday, while Dapto will be playing for pride against Collegians, who sealed their top-four spot with a last gasp win over Corrimal last week.


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