Hunt vows to handle hostile Leichhardt and loss of Widdop
The Dragons have lost five of their last six matches and head into hostile territory at Leichhardt Oval without their inspirational skipper Gareth Widdop.
Down on form and down on troops, it's a scenario that will truly test the mettle of a team that looked genuine premiership contenders for much of the season.
Much of the responsibility for the Dragons securing a morale-boosting win will fall at the feet of halfback Ben Hunt with Widdop sidelined.
"I've never played at Leichhardt Oval but I've heard it's pretty crazy and the fans are ruthless. That doesn't worry me. I'm focused on turning things around for the Dragons and showing our fans that we're still a force," Hunt told this week's Big League magazine.
"The past few weeks have been tough but we're still only two wins off top spot and we know we have the players and the game plan to turn things around.
"It's a huge game for both teams. They're playing for the top eight, and we're not even guaranteed a spot in the play-offs because if we lose all three games then we're out of contention if other results go against us."
How Hunt handles his first visit to the Tigers' spiritual home will be one of many intriguing subplots in a match which pits Robbie Farah against Cameron McInnes and features a forward battle which will shake the foundations.
The Dragons forwards who played Origin appear to be feeling the strain and Hunt admits that could be a factor in their slide.
"Whether it's fatigue or a lack of confidence, I'm really not sure what's going on," he told Big League.
"The loss to the Eels just wasn't good enough. I've been thinking about where we went wrong ever since, but I just haven't been able to put my finger on it.
"From a team that was doing so well in the year – we were playing with confidence and everything was going our way and we were working hard for each other – Saturday night felt like the complete opposite.
"It seemed like the harder we tried, the worse it got for us – that sometimes happens in games.
"You get down by 18 or 20 points, and while you don't mean it, you seem to go into panic mode and you try things that you shouldn't be and they invariably don't come off.
"After the weekend I'm stumped and I don't know what to put it down to.
"Losing was one thing, but it now looks like we'll be without Gareth indefinitely.
"If we've lost him for long period of time or even for the rest of the year, it's going to be a huge blow for us.
"I tried to do a lot more when he went off the field against Parramatta.
I tried to get my hands on the ball more than I usually do, and we'll have to address our game plan this week against Wests Tigers."