By Martin Gabor - NRL.com National Correspondent
His side might have been struck down by a vicious case of the flu last week but Dragons halfback Kurt Mann has refused to use that as an excuse for St George Illawarra's 24-12 loss to the Broncos on Friday night.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor hinted in his pre-match media conference that there were four players in serious doubt for the Round 24 clash, and his fears were justified as Nene Macdonald (knee) and Hame Sele (illness) were both ruled out.
While it would be easy to blame the loss on his side's disrupted preparation, Mann refused to take the easy way out.
"We had big Friz (Tyson Frizell) roll his ankle at training, Nene hurt his knee as well and then a couple of boys missed out because of the sickness going around so it wasn't ideal preparation. That's footy and everyone gets sick so you've just got to deal with it," he said.
"I think you could say about 80 per cent of the team had it (the flu) and everyone's on the mend. There are a couple of boys who aren't here today because of it but they should be alright by the weekend.
"It shouldn't have really affected us that much. We've still got a game to play no matter if people get sick. I think our doctor was on top of it as well at the time so it didn't make a whole lot of difference.
"Brisbane are a good side, we went up there and we created a lot of opportunities – we played a pretty good game of footy in attack – and just our defence sort of let us down. It's hard to go up to Brisbane and beat them at their home stadium in front of their fans."
Despite the setbacks, the Red V tested the Broncos for long periods of the match, finishing the game with three line breaks, 16 offloads and slightly more running metres than their opponents.
However, their execution wasn't as crisp as we've seen in recent weeks and the 12-point loss leaves them in ninth spot, a win behind the eighth-placed Sea Eagles.
Given their impressive for and against, the finals equation is fairly simple for the Dragons; beat the Panthers and Bulldogs in their remaining fixtures and hope Manly or the Cowboys slip up in the next two weeks.
Even one win could be enough if results go their way, but Mann doesn't want to take any chances leading into this Sunday's trip to Penrith.
"I wouldn't say it makes it easier, but it makes it a lot clearer. There are no ifs or buts; if that's what you've got to do then you've got to do it," he said.
"This weekend, we know what we've got to do. We haven't really got an option now so we've got to win the next two games so hopefully our attack will come to light."