Joel Thompson became the latest casualty among the flu-ridden Dragons squad, missing training as they prepare for a showdown against Penrith which could decide their finals fate.
After lock Jack de Belin and fullback Matt Dufty were among those bed-ridden before the 24-12 loss to Brisbane, Thompson was given the day off to recover.
The virus which has swept across much of population this winter had a major impact on St George Illawarra players at the worst possible time, with their season on the line.
Dufty was an onlooker for much of Tuesday’s session at WIN Stadium, with NSW forward Tyson Frizell, Thompson, Siliva Havili and the injured Nene MacDonald among those missing.
But prop Paul Vaughan said the long turnaround into Sunday’s must-win battle with the Panthers is enough time for the Dragons to be fit and firing.
“We’ve got plenty of time,” he said.
“It is such a long season, bodies are getting a bit run down.
“It’s what’s happened in the general population of NSW, the flu has gone mad, everyone is sick.
“But they’re all very profession and getting the best preparation and care they can have. When it comes to game day, you’re 100 per cent committed to the boys, that’s the way it is.”
Vaughan was physically ill after his first stint in Brisbane on Friday, but said it was not because of the virus.
Dragons staff expect Thompson, Dufty and possibly Macdonald to play on Sunday.
“The best example is Jack de Belin,” Vaughan said.
“I think he was bed ridden for two days (before the Brisbane game) and played out of his skin.
“I don’t think you can let it affect you too much.”
Beating Penrith and the Bulldogs in the final two rounds will almost certainly guarantee the Dragons finals action.
St George Illawarra’s forward dominated the round one game with the Panthers, as the Dragons marched to a shock 42-10 over one of the pre-season premiership fancies.
But fortunes have changed, with the Panthers winning their past seven games to storm into the top eight and the Dragons wining just two of their past seven.
Vaughan said the Dragons will be up for the challenge when they renew hostilities at Pepper Stadium.
“It will be unreal, their forward pack is pretty solid,” he said.
“They’ve got a few rep players in there, (front-rower Reagan) Campbell-Gillard is going pretty well and James Tamou is getting into some form.”