Sam slowly finding feet in Dragons' No 7 jumper

RUGBY LEAGUE

Sam Williams listened to everything said about halves partner Gareth Widdop before the start of the season - but needed to only watch him for a few minutes to add to his own game.

"I've certainly noticed how much he runs the ball and that's his greatest asset ... the way he thinks and sets himself up to run the ball," Williams said.

"He's certainly brought his experience from Melbourne and what he's doing rubs off on the rest of us and we can start trying to play like he's playing.

"The first week [I was selected] I didn't run the ball as much as I would have liked and last weekend was a little less with a couple of errors. I think it's something that comes with confidence and part of a winning team brings that."

While most would have expected Williams and Widdop to steer the Dragons around the park as early as the preseason, not many could have forecast the Broncos' halves pairing.

Once-unsettled fullback Josh Hoffman has made a rapid transition into the five-eighth role, while Ben Hunt has taken on the playmaking duties at halfback.

"It's probably a different pairing to what they've had for the last few years," said Williams, who won a reprieve in round two after Michael Witt's injury in the season opener against the Tigers.

"They're probably a little bit inexperienced as a halves pairing, but they've certainly got a lot of strike.

"Ben Hunt played really good footy last week and he's certainly someone we're going to have to watch and Hoffman is a really good ball runner."

But it's another diminutive ball runner, only three games into a new chapter of his career north of the border, which the Dragons are making no secret of targeting on Friday night.

Screams of "Barba, Barba" could be heard inside WIN Stadium from the adjoining training surface during the Dragons' field session this week, making no secret of the primary threat to St George Illawarra, Ben Barba.

"He's one of their players that can score from anywhere," Williams said.

"We've got to make sure we match him and if we can keep one line of defence, that probably goes a long way. Our kick-chase is really important to make sure they start coming off their own line."

The Dragons' underwhelming trial form mirrored that of their fourth-round opponents at WIN Stadium, but both sides have made lightning-fast starts to the season.

The Broncos came a whisker off toppling premiers Sydney Roosters last week, forgoing the chance to join the Red V and Melbourne as the only unbeaten sides in the competition.

Yet Williams is convinced the Dragons are still a far cry from where they want to be.

"I think the structures and the shape we've got in place are really paying off," he said. "We think we've got more improvement in us and last week we were scrappy, but we did enough to get there.

"If we can continue to improve and execute, then hopefully there will be more points."

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