Dragons forward Tariq Sims brushed reports that the Dragons' finals hopes are over ahead of facing the next few games without a significant number of players.
Josh McGuire, Jack Bird, Blake Lawrie, Norman, Kaide Ellis, Matt Dufty, Gerard Beale, Josh Kerr, Daniel Alvaro, Tyrell Fuimaono, Zac Lomax and Jack de Belin have all been slapped with one-match bans for attending Paul Vaughan's BBQ last Saturday, which subsequently saw the 30-year-old sacked from the Red V.
Should Paul Vaughan be the only Dragon sacked?
— 1170 SEN Sydney (@1170sen) July 7, 2021
At what is now crunch time for the seventh-placed Dragons, the 12 players will be forced to miss games over two to four fixtures as the Dragons won't be able to serve all the suspensions over one game.
While these suspensions will impact the Dragons, Sims rejected claims it will push them out of finals contention. The Blues forward believes it will give his side an opportunity to display their toughness.
"This is a really good opportunity for us to show our grit," Sims said in an interview with Channel 9.
“As a teammate of his and a friend of his I want to support him as best I can through these tough times.
“Obviously going through Covid – it’s no joke and the situations and the pressures we’re under... I’m wearing this just as much as the boys who are involved.
“There’s so many of us involved in the club that we can all look to each other for support.”
— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) July 7, 2021
With 12 players eventually copping a week on the sidelines the Dragons should count their blessings that the NRL hasn't forced the side to sideline all 12 of them for the one fixture. As Dragons coach Anthony Griffin would be forced to throw in a number of reserve graders.
Paul Kent told NRL360, "I spoke to people at the NRL and asked why they’re not serving it all at once,” Kent said.
“The NRL didn’t want to rip off the fans and all the rest of it. Their next game is against Manly after Origin and if all those players are unavailable they practically run out a reserve grade side and that game is practically a write-off.”
The Dragons will face Manly on Friday night following a bye this weekend, with the suspensions then to be served over the following three games against the Gold Coast Titans, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Canberra Raiders.