Ten reasons to love the Dragons of 2009

Jamie Soward celebrates a try. Picture: STEVE CHRISTOGlen Humphries nominates 10 reasons why the Dragons are on fire this year. Join the debate and post your own comments below. Read more Try Hard blogs SLIDESHOW: Darius Boyd named Goose of the Week at training1) Wayne Bennett: It’s obvious that this guy would be top of the list. After all, he’s the No 1 reason for the Dragons’ change in fortune this year. But no-one, if they’re being honest with themselves, would have expected him to turn the club around so quickly.Like most fans, I’d pencilled in 2009 as a rebuilding year, one in which we’d see some signs of improvement but also know there was still plenty of work to be done.But in less than a year he’s transformed a side with a soft underbelly who no-one feared to a team that is stinging in defence, relentless in attack and able to intimidate anyone in the league. The man truly is a supercoach.2) No scandals or distractions: Previous seasons have seen numerous Dragons scandals of one sort or another. Firstly there were all Mark Gasnier’s transgressions – the obscene text message, being out late at night when someone shot at some NRL players and of course, the yearly drawn-out distraction of him suggesting he was going to leave the club. There was also Nathan Blacklock, Anthony Mundine and Trent Barrett leaving, Lance Thompson turning up drunk to training and Wayne Bartrim punching on with anyone who looked at him funny. This year, the NRL has been beset by huge scandals and not one, not a single one, has involved the Dragons. This year we’re so squeaky clean that some journalists have to resort to petty jibes to whip up controversy.3) We have a mean streak: In years gone by, we’d do enough to win and then ease up and let the other team come back at us. Not any more. Now, we’ll score a few tries which will put the game out of reach. But then we’ll keep on scoring more tries – it’s a ruthless, merciless attitude we’ve lacked for a long time and I absolutely love it.4) Jamie Soward: I liked him last year but figured he lacked a little self-belief. Now (perhaps thanks to Wayne and Wendell) he has that in spades. He’s got to be one of the best five-eighths this year and it’s no surprise he’s one of the names you hear when they’re talking Dally M Player of the Year. He also leads three of the four scoring categories – overall points, conversions and field goals. And all that stuff about him being a defensive liability is ridiculous. He’s only little but Soward shows no fear when he has huge forwards running at him. And, more often that not, he brings them down too.5) Beau Scott: He didn’t seem to set the world on fire before but this season, you can help but notice him. Out there in the centres, he’s been Soward’s protector in defence – smashing anyone who’s after cheap metres by running at the little guy. We missed his tackling last week at Canberra – I reckon we would have won if he’d been on the field. And he’s sorted out those clumsy hands of his – hardly ever drops the ball any more.6) Defence: Like most average fans I always paid more attention to attack than defence. There’s always something more eyecatching and exciting about a great break and sprint to the line or a fancy no-look pass than the dour duty of tackling. But these 2009 Dragons have changed all that for me. Now I love watching the Dragons without the ball almost as much as I do when they have it.7) Peter Doust: He signed up St Benny. Nuff said?8) No Mark Gasnier: Plenty of people thought the Dragons had rocks in their head to let Gasnier go. But have we missed him? Nope. In fact, I couldn’t see who in the current line-up we’d drop to find a space for him. Plus, we’re finally rid of his annual “maybe I’ll go play rugby this year” crap. 9) No stress: In seasons gone by, I could never rest easy when watching the Dragons. They had an awful habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by going to sleep for 10 minutes and letting the other side score a few quick tries. I needed us to be at least 25 points ahead and the clock showing just five minutes to go before I could relax a bit. But this year, I can watch with confidence, secure in the belief that if we’re behind we’ll still come out in front. And, if we’re in front, that we’ll stay there. 10) Pride: There were games in the past where I didn’t feel as though the players were giving their all. They were trying, just not trying hard enough. They’d lose focus and throw a stupid pass (hello Jason Ryles) or something else. But this year I’m proud of the players’ efforts. Even when we lose it feels like they’ve busted a gut for the entire 80 minutes.
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