GERRINGONG'S Tariq Sims will be the first to admit his St George Illawarra Dragons' return to the footy field didn't go to plan.
After more than two months away from rugby league, the Group Seven product's side lost 18-nil to the Warriors on Saturday - dropping Paul McGregor's men to 0-3 on the season.
Sims, as frustrating as the loss was, said the adversity has brought the team closer together.
"Watching the tape from the Warriors game made us all pissed off but we've dealt with it and figured out as a group what we need to fix before we play the Bulldogs," Sims said.
"Before coming back together our two edge and middle groups had an open and honest conversion, but we don't play the blame game.
"We know as individuals we all need to step up and play our role, while us leaders have to ensure the morale stays high.
"The long turnarounds [nine days] can sometimes be frustrating but it's all about mindset - we need to knuckle down and do everything we can do to best prepare ourselves for Monday.
"The extra time between games gives us more time on the track to fix those issues we had against the Warriors and it's important we make the most of this time and get as much as we can out of each other."
As well as 'ripping in' on the training field, Sims admits the players have held conversations, where they have stated some 'home truths'.
"It's not like we pussy-foot around the questions at training, we deal with the situations head-on and try and learn from them," he said.
"The most disappointing aspect for me was how our training intensity, which has really spiked the past few weeks, didn't translate on game day.
"From a player's point of view, it felt like we let ourselves, the coaches and fans down.
"When you get picked in a team, you have a certain role to play but unfortunately last weekend, a number of those jobs were not completed as well as they should have been.
"Full credit to the Warriors for the way they played but we know we weren't good enough and will do everything we can to band together and ensure it doesn't happen again."
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As desperate as the Red V are to secure win number one for 2020, the 0-3 Bulldogs will be just as hungry.
"We aren't considering this game as a do-or-die fixture for us, even though it's a shortened season," the 30-year-old said.
"Thinking like that is when panic creeps in.
"The biggest thing for us is controlling what we can control and that is the battle through the forwards, as Canterbury is a very physical forward pack.
"If we do that, we'll give our backs a chance to win their corresponding battle.
"This week presents an opportunity for players to stake their claims in our team and help drag our club forward and secure our first win of the season."
One player in particular who will be looking for a strong showing will be fellow Group Seven product Adam Clune, who will make his NRL debut on Monday.
Clune will wear the famous number seven jumper and he will also mark his 25th birthday on Monday,
"Cluney is a great, young player and this opportunity is a reward for someone who's had plenty of setbacks in his career," Sims said.
"He's one that's never taken his eye off the ball and kept working until he achieved his goal - his strong form in the Canterbury Cup highlights that.
"He's an exceptional communicator and organiser and I believe he will compliment Ben [Hunt] well in the halves - no doubt he'll also boss him around too.
"He knows where he needs to be and which situations will allow his teammates to succeed - he's very clear on his job.
"He's very dominant and tough as nails, as shown by him shaking off a broken nose at training on Monday.
"After his nose was put back in place, he was back into it and didn't miss a beat, which speaks to the kind of person he is.
"He's a very popular guy around the club and come Monday, it's going to be a delight to watch him play."