HALFBACK Josh McCrone has shut out any thoughts about becoming St George Illawarra’s forgotten man.
The 30-year-old has been the steady hand in lifting the Dragons to third on the NRL ladder, even while captain Gareth Widdop and fullback Josh Dugan have been injured.
But with Ben Hunt destined for Wollongong at the end of the season – and Widdop on a new long-term deal, McCrone’s future is anything but certain.
McCrone admits he has learned from experience about how his contract situation can have an adverse reaction on the field.
“To be honest, I don’t read too much into that sort of stuff, you play good footy and life looks after itself,” McCrone said.
“I’ve been pulled up earlier in my career thinking too much about that and you get caught up in it.
“It’s not a good way to be, it starts eating away at you.
“At the minute, I’m happy enough to be playing good footy and keep winning for the red V.”
Widdop and McCrone have combined for six wins from eight games this year, but the Dragons have won just one in the past month since the captain was injured in the Anzac Day defeat.
The English international completed training duties at WIN Stadium on Monday, in a bid to be proven fit for Saturday afternoon’s showdown with Wests Tigers.
“He was looking crisp and silky, just a reminder of what he can do,” veteran winger Jason Nightingale, who has taken over the fullback role while Dugan has been out, said after training.
“He got a lot of confidence out of being out there because he'd been doing a lot of straight line running and boring monotonous stuff that you have to do when you come back from injury.
"I think for him, he was just excited to be there and it showed in some of his ball playing.”
Dugan’s return would mean Nightingale will return to the wing, with Kurt Mann and Jai Field battling it out for the interchange utility role.
The Dragons overpowered the Warriors 30-14 before last weekend’s bye, ending a run including narrow losses to the Sharks and Roosters and being blown away early by Melbourne.
With finals action beckoning this year, McCrone declared his priority to was to stay at the Dragons, even after Hunt arrives from Brisbane.
“I love the Dragons, I love living down the coast,” McCrone, who grew up in the rugby league breeding ground of Temora before joining the Raiders, said.
“It’s a beatutiful place, my family love it here and while you’re winning, you don’t want to leave.”