IT'S all about attitude.
That's the word that St Pat's player-coach Zac Merritt is bringing up more often than any other in the lead up to this Sunday's Peter McDonald Premiership clash at home against the Mudgee Dragons.
The Saints have had an up-and-down time of things lately, knocking over cross-city rivals Bathurst Panthers to claim a long awaited ANZAC trophy win but taking a step back in last round's defeat to the Cowra Magpies.
It was an especially disappointing follow up from the Saints after they showed plenty of heart to fight their way back into the derby late in the contest.
That fighting spirit never emerged in the Magpies game and it needs to return in a hurry against a Dragons team who will be overflowing with confidence after accounting for the Panthers.
Merritt said the Saints roster can go toe-to-toe with Mudgee's lineup but it requires a turnaround.
"We discussed that game a lot this week and it was very disappointing with the way that we turned up to that game against Cowra," he said.
"Mudgee have some quality players but so do we, and we can match it with them.
"We spoke about the need to get our attitude right for this game. It needs to be much better. We've won a few games so far this year, but only just, so we've put a big emphasis on our defence."
It's the work off the ball that Merritt believes to be the biggest deficit in the Saints' game right now.
Better tackling and structure will be needed against a Dragons team who feasted on every mistake that the Panthers made last weekend.
"It's mostly in defence that we need to see that attitude change. We've had no trouble scoring points this year but we've been leaking too many points," Merritt said.
"It's been a really competitive start to the competition and everyone's battling hard for that top four spot so we can go up against the Group 11 teams at the end of the season, so we've got to be better."
Pat's get a welcome boost in personnel for the clash at Jack Arrow Oval.
The Saints pack is back to full strength with the return of both Merritt and Caleb Wardman, giving the blue and whites their starting second row combination.
They'll also bring back Tim Holman into the side to start at halfback alongside five-eighth Mitch Squire.
Merritt said it will be a welcome change to get back out onto the field and give some direction while standing alongside his players.
"Last week, while it's no excuse, we had a couple of players out and we get them back this week," he said.
"It will be great to be back on the field. When you're out there you can lead by example, whereas from the sideline you worry that sometimes it can be in one ear than out the other."
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