Mine coach's say: Round 16
nib Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown isn’t buying into criticism of his former club, the St George Illawarra Dragons, with the competition's early high flyers falling to sixth on the ladder in the last month.
Brown maintains that while they’ve lost a couple on the trot including to the Parramatta Eels last week, the Dragons are still a very challenging opponent.
“I think Parramatta probably hustled and bustled them to victor,” Brown said.
“I don’t think their defence has fallen away, I just think they’ve made a few more errors than what they have in the first ten weeks of the competition when they were one of the form sides.
“The Dragons will be looking to rebound from a couple of losses and a bit of negative publicity and get themselves back on the winning way.”
Brown believes the Dragons have one of the most dominant forward packs in the competition.
“We have seen a side that has a forward pack that I believe is up there in the competition,” explained Brown.
“On the back of the forward pack, we’ve come to see how good a player Gareth Widdop is.
“For a couple of years his form probably wasn’t where we had seen him play before, but I think we’ve seen him really shine and be one of the form players of the competition this year.”
Meanwhile with Dane Gagai playing for the Queensland Maroons in Origin on Wednesday, Brown has been training usual winger Nathan Ross at fullback just in case.
“Last Origin we trained him there for a couple of weeks and he informed me he was the NSW cup fullback of the year a number of years ago, so he is very interested in having a shot there at some stage,” laughed Brown.
“The one thing we know we’re going to get is a lot of commitment, a lot of effort and certainly he’s had a good month training in a lead up to it.
“I am sure if it happens and Gags (Dane Gagai) can’t back up then Rossy will do a great job for us.
“It will be up to Gags... we’ll get some feedback from him but he does like to back up and he likes to be in the game as well so we’ll see how he’s pulled up after the game.”