McGregor stays cool amid Dragons' tumble

Matt Encarnacion
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor says there is no need for panic in the Dragons' camp

They say you're only as good as your last game.

That's why St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor is still refusing to panic over his team's dramatic slide down the NRL ladder that has raised questions over their title credentials.

Despite the Dragons slumping to their fourth loss in five games last week, McGregor took solace from the fact they had kept the Warriors tryless when armed with 13 players on the field.

"For the 80 minutes they didn't score a point when we had 13 players on the field. And the second half, we won the game 12-0," McGregor said.

"Although we didn't execute well at times, I thought we played with a lot more energy and intent.

"That's where it's got to start."

McGregor admits his players are beginning to succumb to the pressure of premiership favouritism after an outstanding first half of the season.

He rightly points out no other team has stayed inside the top four for the whole year.

"When you create what we did - we led the comp up until a month ago, and we're the only team that's been in the top four (all year) - I understand the expectations," he said.

But he instructs his playing group to embrace it, because they earned it.

"It's good because we built that, no one else has built it for us. We built it ourselves and we've proved to anyone and everyone that we can beat any side on our day," he said.

McGregor said he avoided telling the players not to read the criticism over their recent form.

"I'm not going to tell a bloke to go home and not read a paper, or to turn his phone off, or not go and talk to a mate," he said.

"It's entirely up to them the way they chose to do things.

"Obviously make them aware that time away from that is going to help the mind.

"When you're going great, you're probably not going as good as people say and when you're going bad, you're probably not as going as bad as people say. That's how footy works."

The Dragons' task of bouncing back against last-placed Parramatta took a hit when star prop Paul Vaughan was ruled out for up to a month, with Blake Lawrie called on the bench.

The Eels have dropped out-of-favour winger Bevan French, while co-captain Clint Gutherson moves to the centres and Corey Norman at fullback.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Paul McGregor's one win from five games against the Eels as coach is his worst coaching record against any team.

* The Dragons have won just five of 16 games against Parramatta at ANZ Stadium.

* All six of Jarryd Hayne's tries this season have come in the past seven games.