It was a much-needed win for a Red V outfit that had started to feel the pressure after losing both of their matches in the new season. McGregor’s key playmakers had also started to feel the heat, with questions about how Norman and Ben Hunt – who was brilliant on Thursday – would combine.
And while they were more than happy with the result, the sight of an ambulance outside of the Dragons’ rooms said everything that needed to be said about the mood following Widdop’s injury.
“It’s bad. I’m not a doctor but he’s uncomfortable,” McGregor said. “You don’t ever want to see your captain and playmaker, who has been the best player at your club for a number of years, on a bench with a dislocated shoulder. It’s sad. It’s a part of the game we don’t enjoy.”
Ordinarily, a shoulder dislocation that doesn’t require surgery could see him return within the month. But given his history and the run of recent dislocations, officials were right to be concerned. At the top end of the scale, he could miss six months, effectively ending his season.
Widdop is revered within the Dragons’ walls and the news was difficult to swallow for his teammates. Hunt said it was a ‘devastating loss’ for the club should he be out for an extended period.
“It’s devastating. It’s pretty much the exact same thing he did last year. It’s going to hurt. He’s our inspiration, he’s our captain, he’s our best player. It’s a devastating loss,” Hunt said.
Norman echoed Hunt’s thoughts: “He’s our skipper, he’s been a very important player in this team for so long. To lose him like that with his shoulder again, it’s sad to see. That one hurts a bit.”
The Dragons are lucky in one respect, with Matt Dufty to fill the role from next week and potentially for a considerable part of their 2019 campaign.
Brisbane had some flat spots at the start of both halves and their coach Anthony Seibold said they had only ‘dipped their toe’ in at stages and didn’t commit both physically and emotionally.
Still, they hit back hard to lock it up, with Jamayne Isaako dropping a ball with the line begging and missing a shot at field goal to have a difficult end to his evening.
They have Matt Lodge due back next week, with another big man in Payne Haas waiting in the wings. They will need them both and with the Roosters looming, the new management at Red Hill are staring down a 1-3 start to the season
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 25 (C McInnes J Pereira M Ravalawa K Sims tries G Widdop 4 goals C Norman field goal) bt BRISBANE 24 (J Bird A Glenn C Oates J Roberts tries J Isaako 4 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referees: Ben Cummins, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski. Crowd: 21,081.