Melbourne the real test: Nightingale
Experienced St George Illawarra Dragons winger Jason Nightingale says Monday night's clash against the Melbourne Storm will be a true indication as to how his team are tracking under new coach Paul 'Mary' McGregor.
The Dragons appear a rejuvenated bunch under interim coach McGregor, having won two of their past three games - including a 19-18 win on the Gold Coast last Sunday afternoon.
With Melbourne also enjoying a successful fortnight, Nightingale believes this weekend's fixture will prove to be a litmus test for the new-look Dragons.
"Every week is a challenge even before [Paul McGregor] started really. He's very new to the job and the positive performances we have put in over this past month has probably shown what he is doing for us," Nightingale told NRL.com
"For us we just have to keep putting the performances on the park and this will be a great test mainly because of the form that Melbourne is in."
"We have improved in a lot of areas in our game and we definitely earned the win on the weekend which holds us in good stead for the Storm on Monday."
While the Dragons have seemingly turned the corner at the right time in the season, Nightingale reckons the only difference in their game plan is that it's simply a different man telling it to them.
"We haven't changed a lot since 'Mary' started in terms of the game-plan or anything like that. It was just a case of knowing things weren't going well and as far as changing on the field there hasn't been a lot," Nightingale said.
"We are looking forward to playing Melbourne again because we did put a good performance on the last time we versed them and hopefully we can do the same on Monday night."
While McGregor is beginning to prove his ability at first grade level, new Dragons halfback Benji Marshall and five-eighth Gareth Widdop continue their development as a combination in what is perhaps their biggest challenge yet.
"Gareth's been doing a good job for us all year and Benji's been really building into his role with the club," Nightingale said.
"It's good to see him improve every week and grow in confidence and really become that leader that he was at the Wests Tigers for a long time. We are really enjoying all the opportunities he is creating."