Widdop excels despite flu

Englishman Gareth Widdop played a crucial role for the St George-Illawarra Dragons this weekend, as they beat Wests Tigers 28-12 at ANZ Stadium.

Widdop had been suffering with flu in the run-up to the game, and had apparently prepared for the contest by  sticking his head “in a bucket of Vicks VapoRub,” according to Dragons coach Paul McGregor.

Nevertheless, the Halifax-born stand-off scored two tries and kicked four goals from six. He also had a hand in two more tries, and exerted a fine influence on the game.

Benji Marshall, Widdop’s halfback partner for the Dragons, revealed after the game that he had had to do all the talking on the field.

“He’s sick, man,” Marshall, who was playing against his former club, told reporters in Australia.

“I had to do most of the talking because he couldn’t even speak. But he brought all the flair for us today.

“They put an extra number on my side in defence, so Gareth took the ball every time, and capitalised.

“I was happy he really took over because, for me, it was a hard game to prepare for. I tried not to make things about me this week but, you know, there were times in the game when I was a little bit fazed out by the occasion.

“Times where it was a bit surreal. Looking across and seeing mates there that I had played alongside for so long. But that’s when Gareth really took over.”

Coach McGregor was also delighted with Widdop’s contribution to the win.

“We’ve got a few blokes sick today and he’s one of them. Had his head in a bucket of Vicks before the game,” he said.

“There was a lot of emotion coming into this game about Benji, what he was doing. But the importance for us is that there’s two of them.

“Gareth really needs to take control in games when Benji’s under pressure and it was a credit to him the way he pushed through today.”

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