Benji cramping Widdop's style: Elliott
Former NRL head coach Matt Elliott has implored Gareth Widdop to take the reins of St George Illawarra's stuttering attack, suggesting that his combination with Benji Marshall could be holding the team back.
Writing in this week's issue of Big League, Elliott runs the rule over the halves of each of the teams taking part in Round 12 and highlights where he believes the Dragons attack is coming unstuck.
St George Illawarra's Round 10 extra-time win over the Raiders at Kogarah is the only victory that Marshall has been a part of in five games to date this season while McCrone's strike-rate stands at an impressive four wins from six games in which he has played.
While conceding that Widdop and Marshall worked well together for the most part last season, Elliott says that Widdop must play a dominant hand when the pair play together in future.
"A lack of combination has impacted [Widdop] and to be honest he's looked more effective when he's played with Josh McCrone," Elliott says in the Round 12 issue of Big League.
"There has been no issue in balancing the amount of control, which Benji and Gareth got pretty well right last year by the way.
"With Josh there, there's no questioning who's in charge. I think [Widdop] is heading in a direction where he needs to become the dominant playmaker."
One halves combination that Elliott says has struck the perfect balance is the talented Bronco pairing of Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford.
While fans and even opposition players marvel at the individual exploits of Milford that have yielded 10 tries, eight try-assists, eight line-breaks and 10 line-break assists through 11 rounds, Elliott says that the role Hunt is playing is reminiscent of one of the game's very best.
"Darren Lockyer was great at this when he was playing with [Johnathan] Thurston. He was happy to take the back seat until he needed the ball and Ben Hunt does that too," says Elliott, with Hunt boasting 13 try assists, eight line breaks and nine line-break assists this season.
"He's understanding when and how to combine with Milford and his forwards. He's showing unbelievable maturity."
As for Milford, Elliott struggled to find the words to describe his brilliance.
"His all-round skillset is honestly amazing," said the former Raiders, Panthers and Warriors head coach.
"We've seen players with that before in the past, with the same skillset, but they don't execute as well.
"I can't believe he's playing as well as he is at this stage of his career. He dead-set looks like a 300-game veteran sometimes."
The Round 12 issue of Big League is on sale at newsagents and at the ground. Digital version also available through www.zinio.com, the iTunes Store and Google Play.