Queensland five-eighth Corey Norman is willing to move to fullback for the Dragons to accommodate the return of captain Gareth Widdop from a shoulder reconstruction in Friday night’s match against Souths.
Widdop was among the senior players who addressed a team meeting on Monday as the Dragons took stock after heavy back-to-back defeats by Canberra and Penrith.
The skipper then ran in the five-eighth role at a ballwork session.
With halfback Ben Hunt also taking part in the session after a complete week-long break to recover from the toll of playing hooker in Origin, Norman ran at fullback in place of Matt Dufty.
“I’m not too sure what the positional change will be but if I have to move for Gareth I am more than happy to do that,” Norman said.
“[Widdop] would be a massive inclusion for us. He is our captain, he has been at our club for so long and he is moving on at the end of the year so Gaz wants to finish on a high as well.
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“Me, Gareth and Benny Hunt have played a lot of football so we can work together and Gaz will have a lot of opportunities with the ball in hand so we just have to go off him.”
Norman and Widdop alternated between fullback and five-eighth in the round three defeat of Brisbane during which the English playmaker dislocated his shoulder and it is unclear whether they will do so again against the Rabbitohs.
In their two previous matches, the Dragons had employed a five-man spine rotation but concerns about the fitness of centre Tim Lafai prompted coach Paul McGregor to promote Zaz Lomax onto the bench in place of Dufty for the Broncos clash.
Lomax may also be available for the match against Souths after breaking his thumb at training last month.
While Widdop has not played for four months after undergoing shoulder surgery, he has remained heavily involved with the Dragons and has input at most team meetings.
He spoke along with Tyson Frizell, James Graham and Cameron McInnes at a video review session on Monday, in which the players took responsibility for their individual performances in last Friday night’s 40-14 loss to Penrith.
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“Gaz said he is going to throw himself straight into it, he is not going to worry about what is going to happen after the game,” forward Korbin Sims said.
“We are all just focused on this week, leading into the weekend’s game. That is all we can focus on because it is do or die.”
Sims said McGregor had been disappointed that the players had shown great resilience to lead the Panthers 12-10 after having less than 30 per cent possession at one stage of the first half only to capitulate in the second half.
“There was some honest words said and the senior players stood up and voiced their opinion and then Paul McGregor voiced his opinion,” Sims said.
“It wasn’t all doom and gloom, it wasn’t a bash-up session, which is good because we actually watched pictures of what we did well on the weekend that we can still learn from and the not so good pictures that we learned even more from.
“Moving forward into the Souths game I think we are in a really good spot to start afresh and really get a roll-on.”
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Norman said he had been disappointed with his performances since the Origin decider two weeks ago.
“I have looked at my last two performances and had a real god look at myself, and said, ‘It’s not up to scratch’,” he said.
“We don’t need to be pointing fingers at anyone, we just need to look at your own individual performances.”
He was confident that Hunt would return to his best after the time away from training and playing.
“Benny had the week off, he didn’t come to training so no doubt he will be itching to get back,” Norman said “That would have been hard for him to watch on the weekend so I reckon he will be pretty keen to start playing.”
With the Dragons needing to win at least six of their remaining seven matches to make the finals, a meeting of the St George Illawarra board on Tuesday is expected to begin a review into the 2019 season.
Norman and Sims said criticism of McGregor was unfair and the players had accepted responsibility for ensuring the team finished higher than their current standing of 14th.
“Mary and his coaching staff go beyond what they need to do for us,” Norman said. "At the end of the day they are not the ones running out there. We had a real honest video session and chat as players and the talk is over, not it’s time for actions."