Paul McGregor has refused to use fatigue as an excuse for St George Illawarra’s flat recent performances, describing it as a cop out.
The Sydney Roosters dominated the Dragons to run out 36-18 winners at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.
The game was a continuation of St George Illawarra’s insipid recent form. The Dragons did what they had to do to beat a poor North Queensland side last week after they were badly out enthused by the Wests Tigers at Kogarah.
No side in the NRL was as badly hit by the representative period as St George Illawarra, with five of their stars also involved in a grueling State of Origin series.
The Dragons need to get back to winning ways immediately, starting with the New Zealand Warriors in Wollongong on Saturday.
St George Illawarra have lost three of their last four matches and sit in fourth place on the NRL table. While they are still only two points from the lead, they are also only two points clear of Penrith, Cronulla and Brisbane who are hungrily chasing down a top four finish.
Dragons coach McGregor said he understood questions about his side’s recent form. St George Illawarra have failed to replicate their physical dominance over sides as they did as they marched to the competition lead during the first half of the season.
But McGregor refused to allow tiredness to become an excuse for the Dragons’ recent blip and said he expected his side to return to their early season form – and standards.
“I’m sure we can. We can’t use fatigue as an excuse here because the guys we’ve had rested we’ve been through the minutes of their Origin [period and] given them time off where we can. I think that’s just a bit of a cop out,” he said.
“I think we’ve all just got to move on from the Origins. It’s way gone and we’ve got five games of footy before the most important time of the year so we’re just going to work towards that.
“We’ve got to manage what we know which is from within. We’ve got good performance staff, we’ve got an honest playing group and our calendar on our scheduling of time off is quite large.
“We played well I thought against North Queensland. The game before that against the Wests Tigers was after an Origin. [Against the Roosters] the opposition was good, we weren’t at our best [and] we paid the price for it.”
McGregor said the club would continue to manage player workload at training ahead of the Warriors clash.
Meanwhile, St George Illawarra will host Canterbury in the Jersey Flegg competition at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Friday night.