Thick-skinned Soward can take it: Dragons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thick-skinned Soward can take it: Dragons

By David Beniuk 14/09/2011 05:55:27 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra are adamant a thick-skinned Jamie Soward will handle whatever verbals are sent his way by Brisbane in Saturday night's sudden death NRL semi-final.

The Wests Tigers claimed to have unsettled Soward in last Friday's 21-12 qualifying final win at ANZ Stadium, suggesting it was prop Bryce Gibbs' job to target the five-eighth verbally.

It didn't work in a first half dominated by the Dragons, Soward brilliantly setting up a try for winger Jason Nightingale.

But the premiers surrendered a 12-6 lead in a second half meltdown to leave themselves with the massive task of beating the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.

Dragons backrower Ben Creagh said sledging from the Tigers would not have unsettled Soward.

"Sowie's been around long enough now," Creagh told reporters on Wednesday.

"He's been through a lot, he's seen a lot and heard a lot too on the field and off the field so he's got pretty thick skin.

"I'm pretty sure it doesn't bother him at all."

Tigers forward Gareth Ellis told Rugby League Week Gibbs had taken it upon himself to put the NSW No.6 off his game.

"We just needed to play ruthless and Soward is a great player, so if we can unsettle him a little bit with a few words, then you do it," Ellis told the magazine.

"Gibbs has a real in-your-face attitude. He is one of those players that every other player hates, but he is great to play alongside."

The Dragons forwards vowed to protect Soward from any unwanted attention if the Broncos tried similar tactics.

"We'll try not to (let it happen again)," Creagh said.

"We've just got to play well as a team, that definitely helps Sowie.

"If (our) forwards are playing well, he can play off the back of that and it definitely helps his game a lot as well."

Prop Michael Weyman agreed his side's big men would look after the 26-year-old playmaker.

"We're a close unit, we'll stick together and look out for our little fellas and look out for every player in our team," he said.

The premiers are expecting just as much hostility from a Brisbane crowd of more than 50,000 but are backing the experience of their 11 State of Origin representatives, including Soward, to absorb the onslaught.

"It definitely helps with the atmosphere and the hostile crowd, especially being used to it," Creagh said.

"It's going to be an Origin-like game, intensity wise semi-finals are always quicker, they're always harder so that's going to be a bonus for us."

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