TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 21: Gareth Widdop of the Dragons looks on before the start of the round 19 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the St George Illawarra Dragons at 1300SMILES Stadium on July 21, 2018 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Dragons skipper Gareth Widdop could headline three inclusions for St George’s final next week.

The Dragons moved into sixth position following Saturday’s win over Newcastle and look to be hosting Brisbane in an elimination final, while Wayne Bennett’s team can claim home-ground advantage with a win by 23 points or more today.

As well as Widdop (shoulder), the Dragons could also welcome centre Euan Aitken (hamstring) and winger Jason Nightingale (elbow) back from injury next week.

Coach Paul McGregor has admitted that Widdop is the only certainty of the trio to return.

“We get Gaz back next week, so our attack will improve straight away. So defensively we need to get that right,” McGregor told reporters.

“We would’ve liked to have scored them opportunities we created and not turn over the possession we did, but we were good enough to defend it, which is the most important thing.

“(Aitken is) a good chance, too. And Jase is a chance as well. We’ll find out a little bit more about them two guys later in the week. But Gareth will do everything this week at training.”

McGregor added that he was confident with his side’s form in recent weeks, particularly their defence against the Knights, to suggest that they have overcome their form slump.

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“You saw some of it today with our D. We wanted to really get back to being a strong defensive side, which we were for 16 rounds. We haven’t been that of late,” McGregor said.

“Today was a part of that. We found it at different stages.

“We’ve got to be better, there’s no doubt about that, but next week is a different competition. She’s knockout footy, so both teams are level.

“We’ve also beaten all the teams that are in there, so why not?”



  1. Goodbye Dragons next week, your vision failed McGregor of a top 4 finish. What is your vision now? When Saints loose next week I think your vision should be to leave as well.

  2. There was nothing yesterday to show dragons will make any impression in the finals. Whether they play Broncos in Sydney or Brisbane, they’ll be canon fodder. Hope they prove me wrong but it’ll need a quantum jump to be competitive.

  3. Stranger things have happened in finals footy, If Widdop returns and Aiken is back then this is bad news for Brisbane Broncos. I would not write them off just yet. Could be the upset of the tournament.

  4. Dragons are doomed, regardless of who comes back. Aitken was struggling before he was injured, as was Whiddop. Their defence is solid, but just nothing in attack.

  5. I can’t even see the Dragons getting within 20 points of Brisbane next Sunday. With a coach that can’t motivate his team, I have to agree with the above comment, Dufty can’t even take a bomb with no pressure, the Dragons need someone solid at the back, unfortunately recruitment was not good before the June30th deadline to pick up a decent back, in saying that who would want to come to St.George while McGregor is still the coach.

  6. Must be a nasty procedure having ones hair tinted. Put Widdop out for weeks. Doesnt matter who fronts up for this mob on Sunday. Theyre gassed and cannon fodder as predicted by most.

  7. Widdop’s formed slumped dramatically with his boofhead colour change. Dufty has lost it completely, he has dropped so many balls in the last month it’s beyond a joke and let’s not forget it was only a fluke the Knights didn’t win the game after he dropped the ball.

    Widdop to FB, Mann to bench, Field to 5/8, Dufty dropped.

  8. I think that with Widdop back, Hunt will fire up against his old team and the Saints pack can match Brisbane then these two halves could cause an upset here. Brisbane will be helped naturally as the home side by the refs. But if the refs play a natural hand in this game then it could turn into a classic. 😎👍

  9. At least if Widdop is picked at fullback he will be able to catch a high ball. Having Field at 5/8 might give the Dragons a bit of spark in attack which is desperately needed, however the coach McGregor has his own visions and he just has no idea about coaching so I doubt that his visions would make any changes. Brisbane are in hot form at the moment and will probably just breeze past the Dragons on Sunday 30+ embarrassment again.

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