‘It is bad’: What now for Dragons after Widdop injury
THE Dragons will be without Gareth Widdop for an extended stint after the English international suffered a dislocated shoulder in the epic 25-24 win over Brisbane on Thursday night.
Widdop will go for scans in the next few days but it has been confirmed that his shoulder popped out of its socket and, at a minimum, he's looking at between three to six weeks on the sidelines.
If there is significant damage to the shoulder joint he may require surgery and miss up to six months.
"Unfortunately we lost Gaz. It is bad. I'm not a doctor but he's uncomfortable. It's dislocated," coach Paul McGregor said.
"You don't ever want to see your captain and your playmaker, who has been the best player at the club for a number of years, laying on the bench with a dislocated shoulder.
"It is sad and it is part of the game we don't enjoy."
After so much talk about Paul McGregor's shuffling of the Dragons spine, the issue seems to have been solved for him.
McGregor confirmed on Thursday night that Matt Dufty will return at fullback with Corey Norman to slot in at five-eighth.
Losing Widdop is a blow for the Dragons - despite his struggles at fullback he is still the best playmaker at the club, not to mention the captain - but this could be a case of addition by subtraction.
The fates have forced McGregor's hand and the Dufty-Norman-Hunt trio was to be the club's spine going forward once Widdop left at season's end.
And while Widdop is a loss, those remaining playmakers still have the skill, nous and ability to take the Dragons forward and the certainty surrounding their spots can only help.
Norman had his best game as a Dragon against Brisbane, kicking the winning field goal in the final seconds, and Hunt was also strong.
Dufty is a very different player to Widdop but his speed is a rare gift and he showed last season how dangerous he can be.
No doubt fingers will be crossed that Widdop can return sooner rather than later but the Dragons have enough to get by for the time being.
Finding a goalkicker is another pressing concern - Tim Lafai has kicked a goal or two in his day, as have Hunt and Norman, but young centre Zac Lomax is an absolute deadeye.
McGregor may be loathe to drop Mikaele Ravalawa, who scored his first NRL try against Brisbane, but Lomax's kicking may give him no choice.