Widdop's form no fluke, says Reed
Gareth Widdop's potential as a genuine rugby league playmaker in his own right is only just shining through according to his English teammate Jack Reed, who believes the Dragons' pivot is now coming out of his shell heading into his fifth season in the NRL.
Everything Widdop has touched since moving from Melbourne in the off-season has turned to gold, with the 25-year-old the key ingredient in St George Illawarra's undefeated start to the season.
The Dragon's No.6 has been in scintillating form for the Red V right from the opening whistle against the Tigers in Round 1; producing an astounding four try assists, four line-break assists and kicking eight-from-eight with the boot, all in the space of 80 minutes.
Widdop demonstrated that his opening-round heroics were no fluke by laying on a try assist in Round 2 against the Warriors and booting six-from-six, including a field goal. In Round 3 he fashioned a delicately-placed kick for winger Brett Morris to acrobatically pluck from the air for the Dragons' second try of the night.
Broncos centre Reed is fully aware of his compatriot's limitless talent and skills after strapping on the boots with the Halifax-born Widdop in the 2011 Four Nations tournament.
Reed is tipping Widdop to further accelerate his career now that he has full control over the playmaking duties at the Dragons, something he had to share when at the Storm.
"He's a talented football player and I think it was one of his best moves coming to St George," Reed said.
"He's got that opportunity now to become the No.1 ball player and as you can see he's got some great footy in him.
"If you play alongside Cam Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk – [then] obviously he's learnt a lot from that – and along with his own natural talent he's really playing some good footy down there at the moment."
For Reed, the Broncos' rookie of the year in 2011, the opportunity to use Friday night's clash against the undefeated Dragons is the perfect platform to launch from following their last-start 30-26 heartbreaking loss to the Roosters.
"It was one of those games where we played our good footy and the result didn’t go our way in the end. We took a lot from that game but we've just got to put it behind us now and look forward," the 25-year-old said.
"You take [those type of defeats] on board, [but] it's one of those things you learn [to get over] through the week and hopefully you can progress on that. But you can't stew on it too much – you take all you can from it and try to use it moving forward.
"Seventy-five minutes of great footy can't win you a game of football. They (the Roosters) played good football as well and held in there for the 80 [minutes], so they got the result."
Reed says the Broncos are itching to bounce back with a win against the Dragons in Wollongong, a venue where they defeated the Red V 22-6 in Round 2 last season. The Broncos have an impressive record over St George Illawarra in recent years, having not lost to them since Round 5, 2010.
"It's going to be tough. Going down that way [against the Roosters] was obviously not the way we wanted to end the game but we want to bounce back against the Dragons," he said.
"The Dragons are 3-0 and we've been playing some good footy as well so I'm really looking forward to getting down there and giving it a crack."
Not only will the Yorkshire-born Reed come up against his fellow countryman Widdop, he also may run into an old Broncos teammate in Gerard Beale, who played 63 games for Brisbane between 2009 and 2012. Although Brisbane's right centre Dale Copley is likely to mark Beale, Reed hasn't ruled out some friendly banter with the ex-Bronco.
"It's always good coming up against an old teammate," he said.
"I'm really looking forward to it so hopefully I can get across [the field] and give him a bit of a face rub or something like that."