You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Dragons pivot Widdop out for six weeks

NZN 26/04/2017 Steve Zemek and Scott Bailey

Gareth Widdop is set to miss six weeks with a knee injury, a blow that is threatening to derail St George Illawarra's stellar start to the NRL season.

Widdop has been diagnosed with a medial ligament strain after going down in the Dragons' 13-12 Anzac Day golden-point loss to the Sydney Roosters.

The Dragons now face a massive struggle without their star No.6 with statistics showing he has either scored or had a hand in nearly 60 per cent of their points over the first eight rounds.

As well, coach Paul McGregor will be forced to turn to Kurt Mann - a player who has never started an NRL game in the halves - as his side faces a horror draw over the next several weeks.

The size of the hole he will leave in their line-up is underlined by the fact that of their 203 points this season, Widdop, the competition's leading pointscorer, has played a part in 119 of them.

He has scored 87 points through six tries, 31 goals and one field goal as well as setting up another eight tries, according to Fox Sports Stats.

After hitting career best form, he has rocketed into Dally M contention and after eight rounds sits in fourth spot in voting.

After leaving the field 90 seconds from halftime against the Roosters, his absence was noticeable in the second stanza as the Dragons struggled for direction, though they stayed in the game through a resilient defensive effort.

The Dragons now face a crunch three weeks with tough clashes against ladder leaders Melbourne, premiers the Storm and a daunting road trip against the Warriors.

With Drew Hutchison already out with a season-ending knee injury, McGregor looks set to turn to second-string halves pairing of Josh McCrone and Mann.

Mann came off the bench and filled in at No.6 when Widdop came off and McGregor said he expected him to be given an extended period there.

And while he was a half during his junior playing days, he admitted it's been several years since he turned out there.

"Queensland 20s I played in the halves, I played halfback then and 18s I played halfback and then moved to fullback in the 20s," Mann said.

"I prefer fullback or the halves but I can play in the centres and suit the wing as well."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon