Benched Merrin to step up his game
Sometimes silence speaks louder than words and Penrith forward Trent Merrin says he didn't have to talk to coach Anthony Griffin after playing just 36 minutes in the blowout loss to Brisbane.
Coming off a sub-par effort against the Sharks in round 18 when he missed eight tackles, Merrin lasted just 23 minutes in the first half at Suncorp last Friday before being taken off. By that time the Broncos had scored four tries and led 26-0.
Merrin returned before fulltime but told ABC Radio after the game he would follow up with Griffin as to why he spent so long on the bench.
"I had a bit of time on the sidelines, things weren't going the way we wanted them to go. A few concussions and what not, it's a kick in the arse. You take that, it's a long season," Merrin said on Tuesday.
"It's very painful, you work hard as a team, when you see your teammates going out there and it's not happening the way you prepare, it's heartbreaking.
"I haven't talked to the coach about it but I know personally what my standard is and probably haven't been at my standard the last few weeks, the same as the team.
"That's the way the game panned out. I've learnt from that and definitely going to work on putting in a big performance this week."
Merrin admitted he has been down during the past month and that mini-slump has now cost him a starting spot, with Griffin naming Corey Harawira-Naera in No.12 against Manly and sending Merrin to the bench.
"I think you can get complacent over the year - it's a long year, players coming in and out of teams, bumps and bruises, it's a real mental game," Merrin said.
"It's something I need to work on. It's been good but you get complacent. I personally know I haven't been at my best the last few weeks.
"It drives me to work hard and put myself in a good position. As a senior player of this group that's not where I should be at.
"I've got to take that kick in the arse and work hard on myself."
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been named to return from a hamstring injury for Saturday's crucial clash, while Reagan Campbell-Gillard (jaw) remains at least another week away from a return.
"Reagan has left a big hole, we thrive off the energy he brings and the little stuff he does off the ball," Merrin said.
"To get him back in the team is going to be a big lift for the boys."