Red V out to break another hoodoo
They're already the first Dragons outfit to sing a victory ditty in the nation's capital since 2000, and Paul McGregor's men now have to back up their reputation as hoodoo gurus if they're to keep their season alive in Friday night's do-or-die clash with Brisbane.
Having recently broken through for their first win on the Raiders' patch since McGregor was still pulling on the boots, the Dragons will walk onto Suncorp Stadium having tasted nothing but defeat since 2009 on the most hallowed turf in Queensland.
In their past six visits to the Broncos' home base the men in red and white have come away empty handed, with semi-final losses in 2009 and 2011 both ending those respective campaigns for the Dragons.
Currently sitting two points adrift of eighth- placed Parramatta, but ranked 11th on the ladder due to a for-and-against of -21, anything but a win will see the Broncos inflict a similar fate on the Sydneysiders' 2014 campaign.
Brisbane have also dominated recent history between the clubs, claiming the points in their past seven clashes and nine of the past 10, though prior to that it was St George Illawarra holding the upper hand with eight wins in a row over the northerners between 2005 and 2009, five of which were recorded at Suncorp.
But as with the Red V's previous 14-year run of outs in Canberra, senior winger Jason Nightingale says any talk of hoodoos and unhappy hunting grounds just doesn't fly around Dragons HQ.
"What, five years... it can't be that long can it?" Nightingale laughs when informed of his side's last win in the Queensland capital, a 25-12 triumph from which only he, Brett Morris, Dan Hunt and skipper Ben Creagh remain.
"I've got pretty good memories from our games up there actually, we have had some good performances up there and I can't remember struggling much up there even if the stats don't tell that story.
"Obviously a hoodoo's not on my mind at least anyway."
For all the media chatter about the Dragons' barren run in Canberra, Nightingale says the Red V never bought into the hype because of the extensive upheaval at the club that meant there were only a handful of starters amongst the playing squad who had endured more than a few losses down the Hume Highway.
"You can hear about a hoodoo as much you want, but if you've never been part of it how can it mean anything to you?" Nightingale says.
"That's just our roster at the moment, it's changed so much over the last few years, there aren't people here that have a long history with losing or with winning.
"You can't say 'you've got a good record against someone, these players are going to do it again', because our club's changed a lot in the last few years.
"And you can't sell a hoodoo to someone who's been here for a year, so we're hoping to go up to Brisbane and produce a good performance.
"It's a big clash with both teams on the same amount of points vying for the eight so it's going to be a good challenge."
The Dragons have been boosted by the inclusion of star duo Benji Marshall and Josh Dugan, who were both in doubt at the start of the week with ankle injuries. Five-eighth Gareth Widdop – who incidentally has never lost in Brisbane in three visits with former club Melbourne – says the pair's addition ensures the Dragons are basically at full strength for the crucial clash.
"We need the best team out on the field that's for sure, it's a do-or-die clash," says Widdop.
"The last few weeks have been a bit like that, we have to win to keep our season alive otherwise it'll be a disappointing season... so we need our best players on the field to go out there and perform and hopefully get the win."