Ben Creagh says lending experience in the middle of the park has rejuvenated his football career. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Revitalised St George Illawarra have certainly made their intentions known since Paul McGregor stepped in as head coach almost two months ago.
With the Dragons giving their finals chance a massive boost following their four wins from five games the Red V faithful, including refreshed club captain Ben Creagh, have been reaping the benefits.
With a move from his usual place in the back row, a position that saw him start in seven Origins for the Blues and play twice for Australia, coinciding with McGregor's promotion to head coach, Creagh has been playing like a new man and it has shown with his average 1.9 extra runs and extra 35 metres per game since his relocation in Round 12.
While his defensive effort is down ever so slightly by 2.5 tackles on average, Creagh admits that he has been enjoying the shift - though he reveals it may have happened sooner if obstacles hadn't blocked its path.
"I trained most of the pre-season in the front row, I played there in the trials, but then injuries led to me moving out to the edge again so it is nice to be back in there again and it was a bit of change because I have played in the back row for most of my life," Creagh reveals to NRL.com.
"[McGregor] just wanted me to get my hands on the ball a lot more and because we have a young forward pack, we need an old head in there to lead the way and I'm trying to do that for us.
"It was a bit of a shift for me to move into the middle but playing alongside the young guys in the middle... is great. I can help them out as much as I can."
With Creagh being among the Dragons' best since making the move, the 240-game veteran was honest in his assessment of his form in previous seasons.
"I enjoyed my time in the back row but maybe because I did it for so long I might have been a little bit stale at times in how I played and how I trained I suppose as well," Creagh said.
"Though moving into the middle, it is a totally different position, and I'm enjoying learning new things each week."
With an in-form Creagh flying and the Red V sitting at ninth on the ladder on points differential, the captain noted that their goal was to be still playing football when September rolls around.
"You always want to play finals footy when you're in any side but I think now if we keep playing consistently well and keep backing up our performances then there is no reason why we couldn't make the top eight," Creagh said.
"The feeling in the team is great. We have had a pretty tough season considering we're still in the bottom [half] of the ladder. We are not sitting in the position that we would like to be at this point in the year. Only hard work is going to get us out of where we are and over the last five or six weeks we have been really good.
"Our blokes are really playing with pride in their jerseys and their really buying into what the coach wants us to do every day at training and when we get to the games."
With perhaps their toughest test coming against the Sea Eagles on Monday night, the Dragons will need their finals mentality to begin now if they are to be any hope of toppling the premiership favourites.