Dragons must regain confidence: McGregor
After a third straight dour effort since their Round 12 bye, Dragons coach Paul McGregor has conceded his team's confidence has taken a dip but also believes the talent and hard work inherent in his squad should make that a simple matter to fix.
A knee strain to skipper Gareth Widdop suffered in Round 8 put the skids on the Red V, who were leading the comp after seven weeks with six wins under their belts.
A couple of tough losses to top-ranked teams followed but since the Round 12 bye a narrow win over the last-placed Wests Tigers has been followed by poor losses to bottom-eight teams Canterbury and Parramatta.
Speaking after Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Eels, McGregor said a poor start to put themselves under fatigue early didn't help and added that some key absences (including Origin stars Tyson Frizell and Josh Dugan) coupled with a bye week off had affected the team's structures.
"There's a lot of blokes that care in those sheds and when that happens sometimes you put yourselves under too much pressure and you freeze a little bit," McGregor said.
"There's a lot of talent there, sometimes the confidence gets down pretty quickly.
"We've got enough talent to do well in the competition, we've just got to be confident how we go about it, that's all… We've just got to get a bit of belief there."
Halfback Josh McCrone had a strong start to the season alongside Widdop in the halves but has struggled over the past three games and was substituted with just under 15 minutes to play against the Eels.
However McGregor said the former Raider hadn't been hooked, rather it was a case of wanting to get bench centre Taane Milne into the game while giving utility Kurt Mann some time alongside Widdop in the halves.
"Taane had been on the bench and he's quite an exciting player and we're looking for some creation there," McGregor said.
"Kurt did really well a fortnight ago when he played in the halves when Gaz was out and we wanted to see how he went at six as well. We just gave young Taane an opportunity to get into the game and try and force us into some points and give Kurt another opportunity, this time with Gareth in the halves."