Widdop confident of Dragons’ turnaround

St George Illawarra skipper Gareth Widdop is refusing to panic over the Dragons’ spiralling season despite them being in danger of slipping out of the top eight for the first time this year.

The Dragons’ last-start defeat to Canberra was their seventh loss in 10 games, leaving them on the finals cutoff in eighth with Penrith just two points behind.

It’s been a stunning freefall from coach Paul McGregor’s side, who were rated premiership contenders after winning six of their opening seven games of the year.

But Widdop on Monday claimed his team aren’t far away from locating the same form.

“In terms of where we were earlier in the year to where we were on the weekend, the standard was up there (against Canberra),” Widdop told reporters on Monday.

Utility Kurt Mann said the team had been guilty of complicating their approach.

“We’ve lost our way a bit. We haven’t been playing the same style of footy that we played at the start of the year, everything was a lot simpler at the start of the year,” he said.

“I think everyone’s trying to do too much. We’re just trying to win games every play.

“On the weekend we got back to just trying to break opposition teams down and I think it worked for us. We played a lot better than what we have.”

Widdop urged the team to stick to the game plan ahead of what looms as a critical clash with third-placed Manly at WIN Stadium on Sunday.

The Dragons will be sweating on the fitness of forwards Russell Packer (hip) and Tyson Frizell (rib), who are racing the clock to be fit to take on the Sea Eagles.

Another loss, coupled with a Panthers win, could result in the Dragons dropping out of the top half of the NRL ladder for the first time this season with six games to go.

“Just keep the high standards that we set ourselves earlier in the season, be positive and confident about what we’re about, and just stick to the process. That’s all you can do,” Widdop said.

“You’re not going to win every game, but if you stick to the process and give our best efforts in everything we do, then wins will look after themselves.”

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