Loss was a reality check: Merrin
Panthers lock forward Trent Merrin admits his side's embarrassing 42-10 defeat to St George Illawarra in Round 1 was a reality check for the side, as they look to bounce back against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown on Sunday.
Predicted by many as premiership favourites to kick-off the season, the Panthers missed a whopping 47 tackles and were outplayed in all aspects against a Dragons outfit who were questioned during the pre-season for their inability to score points.
"Last week's behind us now," Merrin said on Wednesday.
"You get a real big buzz coming into a new season and we copped it last weekend.
"It's put us back into place.
"They come out with more energy and played through the middle so credit to them.
"It is what it is and we've learnt a lot from that game."
Merrin was a slow starter minutes-wise in the opening six games of last season, averaging 58 minutes, before finishing the rest of the year with five 80-minute performances.
The 27-year-old managed only 44 minutes in his first hit-out of 2017 against his former club, but said that was to be expected after injuring his calf muscle in the pre-season.
"It was my first game for the season after I missed out on a few trials with the calf, so I'll slowly build up to it and get the match fitness back in the body," Merrin said.
"Everything's all-sweet so it's just about getting match fitness.
"All our sessions are pretty intense, nothing's changed on our behalf."
The Panthers face off against a red-hot Wests Tigers outfit that blew the Rabbitohs away in Round 1, but Merrin insists the team's focus is not on the opposition but rather making sure the side gets back on track and in the winners circle.
"They played awesome last week so again we are going to have to prepare for a tough game," he said.
"They'll be full of juice after their weekend against Souths but we haven’t looked too much on them.
"Our main focus is on us and what we can control."
Teammate Isaah Yeo echoed the thoughts of the former New South Wales forward and said the result against the Dragons would help the side prepare better moving forward.
"You'd be worried more so if it was Round 26 than Round 1," Yeo said.
"Everyone was just underdone with match fitness and when you spend the first 20 minutes tackling it can hurt you and it did with us.
"I think we will definitely be better for the run.
"I think the Tigers have been outstanding and their forwards aimed up really well against Souths and they have strike all of the park with [Mitch] Moses, [Luke] Brooks and [James] Tedesco.
"Now it's all about preparing well for Sunday."
This article first appeared on NRL.com.