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How Widdop turned it around

Dragons press conference8:06

NRL: Dragons press conference

Widdop starred for the Dragons against the Roosters.

IN the whole of Australia there wouldn’t have been a more proud Englishman on Anzac Day.

And in the wake of Gareth Widdop’s man of the match performance in a gritty if not mistake riddled 20-18 win over the Roosters, Dragons coach Paul McGregor decided it was time to iron out a few rumours.

A couple of weeks back there was speculation that Widdop was close to losing the captaincy after the 26-0 drubbing by the Broncos.

But since the skipper has been close to best on ground against the Gold Coast and Roosters.

“There was never one thought that came into mind to ever take the captaincy off Gareth,” McGregor said.

“He is new at the role and it takes a while to understand that role.

“He is a person that competes on everything and that’s what you want from a captain.

“What he says everyone listens to and you’ve seen his performances in the last two weeks.

“He has been exceptional.

“He is a big part of why we won both games.

“Gaz is a hard working, honest person, that will always be held very high while ever I am coaching at the club.”

And on the back of Widdop’s efforts in recent weeks, the Dragons have their season back on track with four wins from eight games leading into next Sunday’s clash against the Warriors in New Zealand.

After a difficult opening two months of the season that included the hellish trip north to tackle the Cowboys and Broncos in consecutive weeks, the Dragons had their confidence crushed when they failed to score a point in two weeks.

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Naturally that led to a lot of talk about Widdop as well as Benji Marshall.

But while Marshall hasn’t played since the round five belting by the

Cowboys, Widdop has answered his critics the best way possible.

And Widdop’s performance yesterday, particularly in the first half, was proof of that.

He scored 14 of the first half points as the Dragons cruised to an 18-0 lead.

And his 21st minute try was the perfect example of his lead by example mentality.

“He put the kick through and he was the one leading the chase,” McGregor added.

“There was a lot of other people in a better position than him to chase but they didn’t do it, Gareth done it. And that is what leaders do.”

Widdop conceded he had a point to prove to himself after his under par performance against the Broncos.

Widdop was damaging for the Dragons early.

Widdop was damaging for the Dragons early.Source:News Corp Australia

“Yeah. I certainly did,” he said.

“I set high standards for myself and it wasn’t good enough.

“You just have to look yourself in the mirror and I wasn’t doing my job for the team and it hurt everyone.”

After landing back to back wins without Marshall, McGregor predicted the Kiwi will be back for the match in New Zealand and that in itself will create some debate as to whether McGregor should stick with Josh McCrone who has been something of a lucky charm this year.

In his five games McCrone has played in four wins with his only loss against the Broncos.

While it would be hard to argue against Marshall’s immediate return, there is no doubt Widdop has taken more control in Marshall’s absence and it has been for the betterment of the team.

But McGregor left little doubt that Marshall will be rushed straight back into the starting side last night.

“I will worry about that next week. He is a world class player,” McGregor said.

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