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Lockyer still wary of Dragons

By Wayne Heming 02/08/2011 06:05:45 PM Comments (0)

Few know Wayne Bennett better than Darren Lockyer, which is why the Brisbane skipper says it would be premature to write off St George Illawarra's NRL premiership defence.

Bennett's Dragons have dropped two straight and three of their past four games to slip out of the top four, their slide prompting some critics to cast doubt on the red and whites' ability to go back-to-back.

It's a situation Lockyer claims Bennett would be lapping up, having seen him work his way out of similar situations over the years - most notably in 2006 when the Bennett-coached Broncos overcame a late season form slide to win the premiership.

"He's been through it so many times," Lockyer told AAP.

"We went through a few of those here at Brisbane with Wayne.

"I remember they (the Dragons) lost a couple of games late last year and the rest is history.

"In '06, we (Brisbane) lost five in a row before Wayne got us up to win the premiership so he's been there, done that.

"He's got eight Origin players, a couple of Kiwi internationals and they know what it takes to win big games.

"Once they get that next win under the belt, we won't hear any more talk about the Dragons not being contenders."

Snaring that win will be no easy task this week, with a clash against the rejuvenated Wests Tigers on Friday night.

But rather than dismissing the Dragons as premiership contenders, Lockyer - who won four premierships with Bennett - feared the current slump could replenish the side's hunger.

"They (Dragons) are not playing their best and Wayne's questioned their attitude, but you can't expect them to be up every week and they've been up for a long time," Lockyer said.

"In my opinion, it probably makes them more dangerous at the back end of the season because, once they kick back into gear, they've only got to hold it together for about eight weeks.

"It's a marathon season and you can't expect to be at your best every week."

Lockyer's sentiment was similar to those emerging from the Dragons camp on Tuesday, with prop Jon Green dismissing the need for crisis meetings or truth sessions.

Bennett was scathing in his criticism of the playing group after the Dragons on Sunday turned a 20-0 lead over South Sydney into a scarcely believable 34-24 loss.

It was the worst performance of what has been a largely forgettable two months for the premiers in which they have won just two of eight games - with the one highlight being the 24-6 demolition of Manly in round 16.

"We're not a bad team. You don't just become a bad team overnight," Green said.

"You look at that (Manly) game and we were on for 80 minutes. You look at the weekend's game, we were on for 20 minutes - that's the difference."

Asked if the players had lost the hunger to challenge for the title, Green said: "Not really ... we're in the finals, we're just waiting around.

"It's happened to us the last couple of years. We'll be right."

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