September no time for overhauls: Ryles - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

September no time for overhauls: Ryles

By Steve Jancetic 10/09/2008 04:10:41 PM Comments (0)

As painful as the near misses of 2005 and 2006 may have been, departing St George Illawarra prop Jason Ryles believes the double NRL finals failure came with a valuable lesson - don't go changing.

Ahead of what could turn out to be his final game in the big red V, Ryles said the Dragons coaching and playing staff had learned that September was not the time for radical overhauls.

The former Test enforcer, who will link up with French Super League club Les Catalans next season, claimed his side's finals campaigns of `05 and `06 weren't helped by changes to the game plan which had been so successful in getting the Dragons into the finals in the first place.

"We've learnt by not changing anything at the last minute," Ryles said of the two preliminary finals losses.

"In 05 and 06 especially, we tinkered with a few things and it probably didn't work out the best way, we'll just keep everything as simple as possible and kick-chase hard and hopefully our game stems from there.

"We spoke about (sticking with the game plan) a month ago and apart from the game on the weekend - when the horrendous conditions didn't really help either side - we'd built a little bit of momentum heading into that.

"We haven't taken too much out of (last week's loss to the Roosters), we just want to keep improving."

Heading into the 2006 finals series, the Dragons moved then skipper and five-eighth Trent Barrett into dummy half to accommodate the return of halfback Mathew Head who was starting games off the interchange bench.

The result was a side without any real organiser with Head, Barrett and first-choice halfback Ben Hornby all sharing the playmaking role as the Dragons bowed out at the hands of Melbourne.

Fast forward a couple of years and desire to stick with what has been working throughout the season has left coach Nathan Brown in a quandary over who to start at five-eighth against Manly in Saturday night's qualifying final, with Ben Rogers and fit-again Jamie Soward vying for the berth.

Soward, the Dragons' leading vote-getter in last night's Dally M medal count, was the first choice No.6 for most of the season before a back injury struck in the round 22 loss to Wests Tigers.

In stepped South Sydney reject Rogers, who played a leading role in wins over Brisbane, the Warriors and Parramatta that pushed the Dragons into the finals.

With Soward available for the final round clash with the Roosters, Brown opted to stick with Rogers for the sake of familiarity.

But the wet night didn't do Rogers' running game any favours as the Dragons went down 10-0 in a game which highlighted the need for Soward's superior kicking game.

Rogers was again named at five-eighth for Saturday night's match with Soward on the bench, but Brown wasn't giving anything away when quizzed as to who would get the final nod.

"All those things are a possibility," Brown said.

"Sowey's obviously fit again now and he obviously brings different things to the team than Benny Rogers does."

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