McGregor: Saints were a little ‘late to the dance’
JACK De Belin never trained all week for this one.
Then, played only 30 minutes.
Across two stints.
The star St George Illawarra forward eventually disappearing midway through the second half with a mysterious injury which coach Paul McGregor remained coy on afterwards.
Asked what was wrong with his NSW Origin hopeful, McGregor said: "I can't tell you that".
Um, can you give us a body part?
"Yeah, it's on his body," he replied.
Given de Belin's fitness is of some importance, both to the Dragons and incoming Blues coach Brad Fittler, McGregor was pushed after the press conference for a little more information.
At which point he did say the problem - which is an ongoing hip flexor issue - wasn't serious enough to threaten the lock's Blues selection hopes, and was instead a "week to week" thing.
The coach also confirmed star halfback Ben Hunt should also be sweet to play the Canberra Raiders in Mudgee, despite playing much of Mother's Day with a badly corked leg.
"He limped through the back end of the game," McGregor said. "But he'll be right."
And as for the Dragons themselves?
Well, a quick crunch of the numbers suggests they were ahead in plenty of key areas.
Owned the most possession.
Earned most metres and offloads in attack. Fewest drop outs and missed tackles in defence.
Even enjoyed 37 tackles inside the opposition 20m zone ... compared to just 16 for South Sydney.
"So statistically, we looked alright," McGregor shrugged. "But there is no statistic for intent."
And that, folks, is the sum of it.
"We were a bit late to the dance today," he continued. "It's been a hard month for us and we were a bit below where we've been playing.
"They were a little bit more physical, had more intent to start the game.
"We had a few blokes who didn't train through the week - Jack de Belin was one of them - and that's the first time that has happened for us. No excuse, though.
"We just didn't bring our best."
Yet McGregor was quick to add that, given their efforts over the opening third of the season, he wasn't too concerned with his players being out enthused in this one.
"If it happens consistently, I will be," he said. "But not right now, no.
"I thought we wrestled it back at different stages too by the way. But we didn't get that try we needed.
"Souths had four saves over the tryline. We just couldn't get the ball on the ground and sunk a little.
"Instead of falling forwards, we fell backwards."
Elsewhere, McGregor had no problem with what appeared to be a pair of missed knock ons against Souths halfback Adam Reynolds - one of which came as he attempted to catch a conversion attempt that ricocheted off the goalposts.
Souths scored soon after.
"So disappointed, yeah," McGregor said. "But did it lose us the game? Not at all ... we lost the game."