Confident Soward credits Dragons coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Confident Soward credits Dragons coach

By Steve Jancetic 26/09/2010 05:32:47 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra match-winner Jamie Soward has credited master coach Wayne Bennett for instilling the confidence which allowed him to pilot the Dragons into a long-awaited NRL grand final.

Showing no sign of the nerves he was gripped with as he downed his breakfast on Saturday morning, ice-cool Soward calmly sealed the Dragons' 13-12 preliminary final win over Wests Tigers later that night with a 35-metre field goal to break a deadlock that appeared headed for extra time.

It was a clutch play the pre-Bennett Soward probably would not have been able to come up with, as he praised the veteran mentor for creating a sense of belief throughout the squad.

"He was great this week, he knew what to say to me, how to control my nerves," Soward said.

"Even at breakfast this morning we had a good chat and he just knows what I'm thinking all the time.

"I'm very blessed to have someone that understands me like that and understands how my head works away from footy and Wayne's done that and I owe him a lot."

Asked what type of patient Bennett could expect in the lead-up to the grand final clash against former club Sydney Roosters, Soward joked:

"Probably a head case."

That hardly appears unlikely however for a player who now oozes confidence.

It wasn't always that way though, with Soward forced to go through years of second-guessing himself as he struggled to find a permanent berth at either the Roosters at the Dragons.

The along came Bennett, who made the retention of Soward one of his first tasks when he agreed to take on the Dragons role.

"He was here and I thought he was good value and I wanted him to stay and that's what we did, I made sure we did a deal when I first came here," Bennett said.

"I rang him up at the end of the year when I'd accepted the job and said 'I want you to stay'.

And now Bennett, Soward and the Dragons are reaping the rewards, sitting just 80 minutes away from a first premiership for the club.

"I see an extremely competent footballer player that's highly skilled and he's a very valued member of the team," Bennett said.

"He does wonderful things for us - he's getting it to Ben Hornby, he's getting it to other players, that's what I like about him."

While the win over the Tigers won't go down amongst his greatest performances, Soward provided the impetus for the two game-turning plays, the second of which was his long-range one-pointer.

But after a quiet opening stanza in which he found himself unable to get the ball to centre Mark Gasnier with any regularity, Soward came up with the money ball to the former Test star which instigated Jason Nightingale's match levelling try.

"He leaned form last year, he didn't feel he was involved enough when the games mattered," Bennett said.

"This year he's turned that around - he's out there and he's involved."

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