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Graham defends under-fire Dragons

AAP logoAAP 25/07/2016 By Steve Zemek

Canterbury skipper James Graham has branded criticism of embattled countryman Gareth Widdop as unfair following St George Illawarra's tumble down the NRL ladder.

Dragons captain Widdop, his teammates, coach Paul McGregor and the club's administration are all in the firing line in the wake of three straight losses which has seen them slump to 11th.

Heavy defeats to Manly and Gold Coast and a meek effort against Wests Tigers on Sunday have raised questions over the quality of the Dragons roster, while their governance is being scrutinised with the club $7 million in debt.

Graham defended his English teammate's standing as a star player, brushing off suggestions the Dragons would be walkovers when they meet at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.

"He's a great player isn't he? At least he is in my opinion," Graham said on Monday.

"Sometimes when your team isn't at where the expectation of fans and outside pressures are, the star players come in for some criticism and Gaz is a star player.

"It comes with the territory."

McGregor has been forced to defend himself despite last year taking the club to the finals for the first time in four seasons.

However the club has been lacklustre over past two months.

Since round 12 they have recorded just three wins but they have either been against sides weakened by State of Origin - Melbourne and North Queensland - or last-placed Newcastle.

They also have the second-worst for-and-against in the competition, behind only the Knights.

When a journalist suggested to Graham that the Dragons were terrible, he said: "I don't know about that. I don't think it's great to play teams coming off a loss, especially ones that are fighting for finals.

"They're going to be highly motivated aren't they. Especially with people like yourself saying things like that, it's going to fire them up. So thanks for that mate."

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