By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
Experienced campaigner and Dragons captain Ben Creagh has thrown his full support behind rookie five-eighth Drew Hutchison if Gareth Widdop fails to recover from a quad injury in time for St George Illawarra's finals clash against the Bulldogs on Saturday.
Widdop from all accounts has failed to even have scans on his injured quad due to the swelling and fluid surrounding the injury, and remains in grave doubt for the Dragons' first finals appearance since 2011.
If Widdop fails to recover in time, incumbent Junior Kangaroo Hutchison will be asked to do the job for his side in the do-or-die clash.
"It doesn't throw us into disarray or anything like that. We scored 30-plus points last week with Drew in at five-eighth alongside Benji [Marshall] so it means our structure hasn't changed," Creagh told NRL.com.
"Drew has been training there for the majority of the season when he's been up from the Under 20s so he knows how to play there.
"Look fingers crossed Gareth will be alright but if not Drew has done a great job and I'll put full faith into him this week as well."
Despite Widdop's linchpin status at the club, considering he finished the regular season at equal fourth for individual points scored (176) and eighth for try assists (14), Creagh added it has been his side's defence that has got them to the finals.
In the space of a year the Dragons have conceded 120 points fewer than their showing in the 2014 season.
"The last couple of years our defence has fallen away a lot and we really worked hard on that in the pre-season," Creagh said.
"Our attack has slowly progressed as the season has gone on and we have almost managed to score more points than we have done in previous seasons as well, which is good. But you win premierships on the back of defence."
"A lot of people are saying too we made the finals by the default but you never do that. We have done a lot of hard work up until now and we've given ourselves a good opportunity to I suppose really shake things up
"We have a tough game on Saturday afternoon against the Bulldogs but having played finals before I know anything can happen."
Though they let the Wests Tigers back into their final game of the regular season, with their opponents scoring 22 points in the space of 15 minutes to send the game into golden point, Creagh added he was happy to come out with the win and revisit – for the most part anyway – the form that saw them win six straight between Rounds 3 and 8.
"I thought we controlled the game pretty well for the majority of the time and unfortunately the Tigers put us under the pump there, but we won. And I thought up until that point we played some really good footy," Creagh said.
"We were disciplined in attack and our defence held strong there. Especially with us managing to keep them to eight points for the majority of the game, it was something we haven't done for awhile."