Widdop finds room for optimism in defeat

RUGBY LEAGUE

St George Illawarra recruit Gareth Widdop has described the convincing Charity Shield loss to South Sydney as 'a good kick up the arse' before the season opener against the Wests Tigers.

Though the Dragons struggled to find rhythm and fluency in attack, Widdop remains unconcerned by St George Illawarra's inability to score points.

Defence is often described as an attitude, and it was his side's poor performance without the ball in hand that he believes was the biggest concern to take from the 38-20 loss at WIN Stadium in their final hit-out before the start of the season.

"We were disappointed most of all with our defence," Widdop said.

"Souths are a great team and a top four team with a big pack, but we still have to be a lot better with our defence.

"We're glad that's happened because it was a good kick up the arse. We need to practise really hard over the next week to get it right. We want to be firing round one, we don't want to be starting off poor like that again."

Though it was only a trial, there's no sugar-coating the fact the Dragons produced a lifeless performance just when fans had reason to believe they had a football team capable of challenging for the finals.

A host of new players at the club - including Sam Williams, Dylan Farrell, Mike Cooper and Widdop, as well as the departures of Jamie Soward, Matt Cooper, Michael Weyman and Nathan Fien, means St George Illawarra will have to build from the ground up.

"It's a totally new roster at the Dragons and that was our first game as a team," Widdop said.

One of the reasons Widdop left Melbourne was to step out of the shadow of the Storm's big three - Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.

"I really enjoyed it on the weekend - being that so-called dominant playmaker was very enjoyable," Widdop said.

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