All season St George Illawarra players have refused to blame injuries and suspensions for their poor performances.
But over the last three weeks it's been clear how much the absence of one particular player has hurt this team. That of Gareth Widdop.
Since his return from a shoulder reconstruction against South Sydney, Widdop has been among the Dragons best. On Saturday afternoon he was instrumental in leading the team to a 40-28 victory over the Titans.
Given how good he has been, Dragons fans have been left to wonder what could have been in 2019 had their captain stayed healthy.
For St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor, Saturday's performance was proof how big a blow the team's chances were dealt when Widdop went down back in round three.
"He was special," McGregor said after the match. "He was the difference between us winning or losing. A lot of other people put in effort, but you just need that touch of class now and again and he delivered that today in spades.
"For me, Gareth's been our best back for the last six years since he's been at the club. Others may argue with that, but he'd be in the grand final.
"He's a huge miss, but that's football. His was through injury, we've missed Jack [de Belin] too, he's like Cameron [McInnes] with line speed, and he's not here.
"You can only play with the players you've got, but certainly Gareth is the type of player that brings special things on game day like he did today and certainly gives everyone around him that confidence."
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For the man himself, 2019 was shaping up as a crucial year in his career. With a return to England locked in for 2020, Widdop had planned on finishing his time in Australia on a winning note.
Those plans were scuppered at Suncorp Stadium in March and he admits it's been a tough pill to swallow as he watched his team struggle throughout the year.
"It was unfortunate I got injured," Widdop said. "Not being able to play all year certainly hurts a little bit and makes it a little bit harder to go, not going out on your terms. But that's life, you have to make big decisions in life and this is just one of them for me and my family to head back home.
"You always look back at what could have been, we've had a lot of distractions, a lot of off-field incidents this year which hasn't helped."
While Widdop's return to play may have come too late to save their season, the 30-year-old still feels he has plenty to play for.
With just four matches remaining in the red and white, the Englishman is determined to ensure the Dragons finish the year on a positive note.
"Individually you've got to take a bit of pride for what you're about. You don't just want to roll over and say 'The season's done, let's just make it easy for everyone and not go out there.'
"We spoke about doing it for each other, doing it for our fans and doing it for our coaches. We owe it to ourselves and that's what we'll be doing the next few weeks."
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