By Rachael Price
St George Illawarra Dragons five-eighth Gareth Widdop is thrilled with the Red-and-Whites’ 34-16 victory over the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium, Canberra on Saturday.
The England International says the Red V are ecstatic to break the 14-year hoodoo, but didn’t buy into the hype surrounding Josh Dugan and Joel Thompson in the lead up to the match.
The 25-year-old is working hard with halves partner, Benji Marshall, to solidify their on-field union and are determined to win the next three games starting with the Gold Coast Titans at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Sunday.
“Winning against the Raiders was a step in the right direction, we have three games left and we need to win those too,” said Widdop.
“The boys are extremely happy with the win; the hoodoo wasn’t spoken of leading up to the game but this victory has been a long time coming.
“The media hype around hoodoos and events at clubs is a part of football and we learn to block it out; our job is to play footy, not to worry about what everyone is saying about us.
“Duges trained like he does every week leading up tot the game against Canberra; he didn’t let the hype get the better of him and he went out there and did what he had to do.
“Obviously he was excited to play his old team, as anyone would be, but he went out there and did his job.
“We had Joel Thompson and then we got Josh Dugan down here at the Dragons, so we knew they would get a tough reception; they just took it in their stride and did what was best for the team.
“Josh is always up for a challenge; he was keen to move from fullback to the centres so he could have an opportunity to test himself.
“As the weeks go on he is improving greatly as a player, he’s gained a lot of confidence in that position.
“Joel Thompson has been great for us all year; he’s a tough player and he does all the little things right.
“Benji and I are really strengthening our partnership; we train the way we play, talking and figuring out what’s best for the team, over the past few weeks we’ve simplified the footy.
“Benji is one of the most experienced players on the team and as a young group we really need that guidance on the field.”