Gallen’s boys rely on the great defender

Jeremy Smith: Helping the Sharks defence to become one of the best in the NRL. Picture: John VeageSHARKS Kiwi international Jeremy Smith has two aims this season — to beat the Australians in the upcoming Trans Tasman Test and get the Sharks to the level of the very best NRL teams.
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The experienced backrow forward believes there is plenty of improvement in the Sharks, especially in defence after they missed 40 tackles in Saturday’s win.

“I like to judge our team against the best sides running around, such as the Melbourne Storm this season,” said Smith last week, in his ninth NRL season and closing in on 32 years.

“I want our defence to be the best in the NRL. We’ve improved on last year, but I know we have to focus on defence even more as the season goes on because if we are putting other sides under pressure with our tackling, we’ll win most of our games.”

With captain Paul Gallen, Smith is one of the team’s more feared defenders and while they have mastered the art of putting bigger forwards to the ground, he says the younger team-mates are still learning.

“It is one thing practising but another putting it into practice under match conditions. We are getting better in defence and we need to,” he warned.

“We’re not concentrating on wrestling so much either these days because if you get a good [tackle] contact, you’re halfway there.”

But Smith says he is confident this Sharks side can make a big premiership statement.

“The roster we have this year is really good and the energy the new blokes have brought to the team has been uplifting,” he said.

“I’ve never enjoyed training sessions quite so much. There’s quite a few characters in this side and you can’t help but have a laugh.”

Smith is hopeful of another few years playing Test football for the Kiwis, and the former New Zealand captain is hoping for a “full strength” squad leading up to the April 20 Test.

More immediately, the former Melbourne and St George Illawarra hard-man, who lives in the Illawarra with his young family, is looking forward to Saturday night’s local derby against the Dragons at Toyota Stadium.

“I’ve still got a few mates from the Dragons but we don’t see too much of each other because of our training in Sydney.

“No doubt I’ll cop a bit from them on game day.”

Posted by at 20/05/2018
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