Dragons centre Gerard Beale scored a try and set up another against the Broncos last Friday night. Copyright: NRL Photos/Robb Cox.

Dragons ace Beale's secret heartache

Two days before last Friday's clash against the Broncos, St George Illawarra centre Gerard Beale was left devastated by news that his beloved grandmother had lost a long battle with cancer.

Just two years after also losing mum Laurise to lung cancer, the Kiwi representative immediately thought about flying over to New Zealand to be with family.

But deep down, Beale knew that was not what she would've wanted and instead bravely took his place in a Dragons team that went on to taste their first defeat of the season.

"It was a bit of motivation instead, you know?" Beale told NRL.com.

"I wanted to go out there and play for her. Obviously we lost, but we can still take a lot out of it. Hopefully she was up there still smiling."

Beale said that while it was sad to see his grandmother go, it was also tough hearing of her battle through the pain over the past few months from his family members.

"She was battling cancer and it was obviously sad for the family. [But] the way we see it, she's in a better place now and she's not suffering anymore," he said.

"I guess a lot of people out there can relate to it. It's sad to see a loved one go, but you don't want to see them suffer either. She had cancer and it spread right throughout her body.

"We were close. Like any family, everyone's close. And it was hard knowing she was over there in New Zealand, I couldn't just drive over. Every chance I could I tried and caught up.

"She had a lot of support over there and at the time, so I tried to dedicate this game to her. Obviously it didn't go to plan, but hopefully she's still up there smiling.

"The main thing is she's not suffering anymore and she's in a better place."

The Dragons side wore black armbands against the Broncos in a mark of respect for their saddened teammate and while they were close throughout, trailed their Queensland counterparts the entire night.

Coach Steve Price said he expected to have star fullback Josh Dugan back for next Saturday's clash against the Rabbitohs, who pummelled the Dragons 38-20 in the Charity Shield trial in February.

Halfback Sam Williams said the team was a different side from the one whose 2014 prospects were written off after the pre-season loss.

"After the Charity Shield, we spoke about combinations taking time to click," he said.

"I think everyone thought we were just dropping cliches, but we had a lot of new faces. It was the first time we played a real game together and we're a better team than what we were then and hopefully the result's different next week."