The Dragons' Nene MacDonald is gang-tackled by the Sharks as his team heads for victory in Wollongong last Friday.
The Dragons' Nene MacDonald is gang-tackled by the Sharks as his team heads for victory in Wollongong last Friday. CRAIG GOLDING

The soaring Dragons have faith

ST GEORGE Illawarra coach Paul McGregor believes the doubters waiting for the Dragons' bubble to burst may be in for a rude shock.

The unbeaten competition leaders flew out for Auckland yesterday brimming with selfbelief and looking to extend their best-ever start to an NRL campaign in tomorrow night's top-of-the-table clash with the Warriors.

But the Dragons have been "April premiers” before, only for similarly encouraging starts to end in tears.

McGregor's men won six of their first seven last year before losing 11 of 17 to miss the finals.

In 2015, the Dragons won eight of their first 11 before limping into the playoffs in eighth spot and bombing out in week one.

McGregor, though, believes his "healthy” class of 2018 is different - and ready to keep the record streak rolling.

"A healthy roster definitely gives you confidence going into each week,” he said, with the Dragons eyeing a seventh straight win.

"So whilst we maintain that healthy roster, it obviously gives you good cohesion across the board. You get a lot of repetition in at training, which is important in this game.

"People can talk about it all they want. We've got a vision and discipline around that and standards around how we play.

"Each week we're learning to play a different way to win, which is pleasing.”

Mathematically, the joint venture outfit likely needs to win only six or seven of its remaining 18 games to make the finals.

"It's very important to start the year well. It doesn't matter what anyone says,” McGregor said.

"Everyone can say, 'Oh, you're peaking too early” or whatever they want to say, but if you've got a healthy roster and you're winning games of footy, it certainly helps throughout the year when you don't have a healthy roster and you'll have people away possibly through representative footy.”

The Warriors won their first five games before losing to Brisbane 27-18 last Saturday.

- AAP



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