Origin can fire Dragons up in NRL: Widdop

Matt Encarnacion
Gareth Widdop says State of Origin will benefit St George-Illawarra at the end of the NRL season

St George Illawarra NRL captain Gareth Widdop believes the State of Origin experience gained by the Dragons' representative stars will benefit the team for the big games at the end of the season.

While Tyson Frizell is an established NSW second-rower, the rest of the Dragons' Origin crew are relatively unexposed to the juggernaut that is the interstate rivalry.

Queensland halfback Ben Hunt played sparingly off the bench in last year's decider, while NSW forwards Jack de Belin and Paul Vaughan will get their first taste in the series opener.

With the second-placed Dragons in strong contention to advance to this year's finals, Widdop is banking on the occasion to help the club at the business end of the year.

"For a lot of them, it's the biggest games of their careers so far. They'll certainly learn a lot from the players that play, with the coaching staff they've been around," Widdop told reporters on Wednesday.

"They get to play in front of a packed MCG, it'd be incredible and, hopefully, they can bring a little bit of what they've learned from their camp back to the Dragons."

All four were included in the Dragons' squad to back up on Monday against Canterbury, aiming to bounce back from their comprehensive last-start defeat to Penrith.

The 28-2 loss was easily their biggest of the season, and Widdop challenged his team to make amends against the Bulldogs.

"You win some - you lose some. It's how you respond to that. We understand we didn't play to our standards, which is disappointing," Widdop said.

"But it's gone and we've moved on. We've got an opportunity to respond now."