The 2016 Fox Memorial Premiership is only just over a month old, but already Richmond have registered the same number of wins they managed in their entire campaign the last time they were in the first division.
After five rounds the Bulldogs have claimed the scalps of competition high-flyers Mt Albert and Glenora, which has them sitting in eighth position, just a point outside of the top four.
The two victories equals their season tally from 2014, when they were relegated back to the second division just a year after securing promotion.
Richmond coach Bernie Perenara said improved mental strength has been the driving force behind the good start to the year.
“We have good players so it’s just been about trying to change their mental attitudes towards training and that sort of thing,” Perenara told kiwileaguecentral.com.
“That has been a big thing for us, getting over the idea of working hard and doing what they need to do.
“Believing that you can win games like that one against Mt Albert.
“The players get into a mental zone where they are thinking ‘can we or can’t we go on with this?’ but once they see that they are on top and can keep going then they end up fighting hard the whole way.”
Aside from playing games at training which encourage mental resilience, Perenara said the squad is benefitting from some professional techniques as well.
Last year the central Auckland club had a visit from highly-regarded mental performance coach David Niethe.
“We spent some time with David, who has worked with the New Zealand Breakers and other high-profile athletes,” Perenara said.
“We had him last year to talk to the guys and a lot of that stuff is still serving us well now.
“He spoke to them about believing in themselves and that’s where it all begins. If you put a team under enough pressure they will crack.”
Richmond face Mangere East on May 14 at Grey Lynn Park, in the Auckland Rugby League’s Game of the Round. The match kicks off at 2.30pm.
– Main photo: photosport.nz.