Corey Norman knows what the humiliation of winning a wooden spoon feels like after playing for Parramatta last year and the St George Illawarra playmaker insists he won’t finish this season with another one.
“It's the most embarrassing thing ever, to be honest,” Norman said.
“You get a bit of stick from your friends or just anyone in public so we definitely won’t end up with that.”
The Dragons play last-placed Gold Coast on Saturday at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium and can ensure they will move clear of wooden spoon danger with their first win in six matches.
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has handed a debut to back-rower Jackson Ford, who has been named on the interchange bench, with Patrick Kaufusi promoted to start in place of Blake Lawrie. Ford, a Gerringong junior, is the son of former Parramatta second-rower Peter Ford.
After narrow losses to South Sydney and Parramatta in the last two weeks, the players feel they are getting close and are determined to perform well to honour James Graham’s 400th premiership appearance and centre Euan Aitken’s 100th NRL match.
“I don’t feel that we should even be in contention for the spoon and we want to finish as high as possible on the ladder. That’s our goal,” Aitken said.
“Things don’t work out sometimes and injuries and things like that don’t help. It is crazy to think we are that far down but we just have to concentrate on this weekend’s game against the Titans and get a win for James Graham’s 400th.”
Captain Cameron McInness said of Graham: “He deserves to walk off the field feeling really good. He deserves a win, that’s how simple it is”.
McInness said a video review of last Sunday’s 12-4 loss to Parramatta had been frustrating as the Dragons had their chances to win.
“The effort and the intent the last couple of weeks has been great,” he said.
"Against Parramatta, the amount of chances we created was a bit frustrating because we could have scored a fair few tries and it could have been a bit of a different score but we are heading in the right direction.”
Aitken said the aim for the remaining five matches was to “play good footy and win”.
“We have got the majority of the same side for next year so I think it is good practice and I think we are not far off,” he said.
“There was a lot of positives to take out of the last two weeks. The effort has been there and we have had the whole squad to pick from.”
Aitken said he was proud to have come from Pambula on the NSW South Coast to the Dragons and have achieved the milestone of 100 NRL games with the club.
“I have got everyone at the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs to thank for my development, the community down there was strong and we had a lot of support at the club,” he said.
“They are still thriving down there and their first grade is going strong at the moment.”