Inside Word: Knives out but Dragons will rebound
Cast your mind back about 10 weeks ago ... remember that far? Of course you do. The Dragons were odds on to win the comp, you couldn’t back them to make the top four and we were debating who out of Melbourne or Manly would at least challenge them!
Gee, how things have changed. The unthinkable has happened: the Dragons have lost four on the trot, have slipped out of the top four and, worse yet, if they lose three more they are in grave danger of missing the eight altogether. Remarkable.
So this week, after being toppled by the lowly-placed Roosters, the knives have come out. I know all too well what happens at the Dragons if things aren’t going to plan. It seems to be the most scrutinised club in the league. The fans and the media all jump onto them like there’s no tomorrow. Conspiracy theories, player unrest, the coach is looking to next year, players lost their hunger ... we’ve heard it all.
The reality is the Dragons are only one win away – and it may be this week – from getting back on track. They are one point outside the top four, a position many clubs would love to find themselves in. A win against Melbourne will restore the confidence, silence some critics and let the club get back to business and focus on the footy instead of defending themselves to everyone else.
I admit to being a little surprised by their performances over the past four weeks but I believe it’s nothing that cannot be fixed. The squad is the same as it was at the start of the year. The Origin period looked to have a marked effect on the team but Melbourne and the Broncos had similar representation so that cannot be an excuse.
Jamie Soward has been carrying a back injury which, by all reports, is getting better each day and is close to 100 per cent; Mark Gasnier is close to fit; and Dean Young is into his third game back from a lay-off. Beau Scott looks still to be recovering from his illness six weeks ago but should be 100 per cent in the coming weeks.
I am not making excuses for them but I just know the added pressure they would be feeling because of all the other rubbish being said about the team. They just need to believe in what they are doing, get that attitude back and work damn hard through the week and get themselves out of this little slump.
They have the best coach in the business at the helm and are the reigning premiers. You just don’t forget how to play in a month, and I bet no one will want to play them in the semis for fear of them bouncing back into gear.
If the Dragons can turn this around and I think they can, it will be an even more satisfying premiership if they can come through. These times can bring a team closer together or tear them apart.
I hope for the Dragons’ sake they have decided as a group to take the bit between their teeth and really tear in for each other. The rewards will be enormous!