I'd play Widdop in the halves: Bennett

Matt Encarnacion
Wayne Bennett believes St George Illawarra should play Gareth Widdop in the halves

When it comes to juggling your playmakers, Wayne Bennett has some friendly advice for Paul McGregor: Back your instincts.

But if it was up to seven-time premiership winning coach, Gareth Widdop would be playing in the halves.

McGregor has vowed to stick by his experimental spine for Thursday's round-two NRL clash with South Sydney, which includes starting Widdop at fullback.

It was a position the Dragons skipper played under Bennett during the 2017 World Cup, when England went desperately close to toppling Australia in the final.

"I used him there in the World Cup and he played wonderful there for us, but that was out of necessity because we'd lost Jon Lomax," Bennett said.

"I'd rather play Gareth in the halves, personally. Hopefully going forward, him and George Williams will be a couple of players for England in the halves.

"But he can play fullback. I put him there because I knew he could handle it."

McGregor doesn't intend to play Widdop as his custodian for the entire game.

As he showed in their season-opening loss, McGregor moved Widdop into the halves when he injected the speed of Matt Dufty off the bench at fullback.

The change-up also involves switching million-dollar halfback Ben Hunt to hooker.

It is a bold gamble for McGregor, who is pinning his hopes on making the rare, mid-game spinal surgery a success in a contract year.

Bennett, who led the Dragons to their most recent premiership in 2010 during his three-year stint there, urged McGregor to back his judgement.

"It is difficult, but you've got to have a clear picture in your own mind about who you think's the best for that position," Bennett said.

"You've got to ride with it because every week someone will have a different opinion about it.

"But your opinion is the one that matters most and you've got to have the confidence in yourself to make it work."