Dragons focus on subduing Jamie Soward

Jamie Soward.
Jamie Soward.

Jaime Soward hasn't been taboo for his old teammates this week, with Dragons coach Paul McGregor freely admitting his side would aim to ensure Soward is subject to a harrowing reunion with the Red V on Saturday night.

In the clearest indication yet Penrith's rejuvenated playmaker will come in for some extra attention in his first meeting with his former club, McGregor said the Dragons had poured over footage of their former team-mate.

"He's a massive part of their team and when you're doing video and doing anything on the opposition, you've got key indicators in each group," McGregor said.

"He's a key indicator in their group along with their nine, their one and their seven and a couple of guys in the middle.

"They've got threats everywhere. You can't just concentrate your game around one person but he's certainly come up for discussion.

"I like the way he's going about his footy, he looks like he's enjoying himself and that's important when you play rugby league. We've got to try to challenge that."

Soward and experienced halves partner Peter Wallace have fired the Panthers to the competition lead - and remain unaffected by State of Origin as their opponents miss six regular first graders through representative duty and injury.

They built their season around the gun-toting Soward, who has brought out imaginary weaponry in his recent try celebrations.

McGregor, who Soward credits for making the two weeks he spent in the NSW Cup last year the most enjoyable of his career, knows that means danger for whoever he comes up against.

"When he's got the guns out, which he's got out at the moment, everyone's got to be aware," McGregor said. "He's a quality player and quality players make an immediate impact at any place.

"You've got to remember this guy has been in a good system and won a competition with a very proud club. He was a big part of that. It's no surprise to me to see him go well out there. Like all good footballers with a point to prove, they always come up with the goods."

Soward's messy split from St George Illawarra, a team he led to a drought-breaking premiership in 2010, came mid-way through last season in the middle of the Dragons' worst ever season as a joint venture.

He was released to join English Super League strugglers London Broncos as the Dragons snapped up former Melbourne five-eighth Gareth Widdop.

"I think a lot of people might have had their doubts, but I knew myself change was what Jamie needed and I knew he would excel," Dragons winger Jason Nightingale said. "He's been great there and fitted into their structures really well. I'm happy for him, but on the weekend we need to find a way to try to halt a bit of the momentum he's gained.

"I'm sure there will be someone that will be trying to put him off his game as much as they can."

Shane Pumipi is set to win the duel with Craig Garvey to be Mitch Rein's understudy on the bench.


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