IT’S NOT OVER: Dumped Soward offered Dragons lifeline


St GeorgeIllawarra skipper Ben Creagh insists Jamie Soward has the full support of the squad’s senior players despite the premiership-winning five-eighth being dumped to the NSW Cup.

The 28-year-old was yesterday axed to the Dragons’ feeder side, the Illawarra Cutters, for the second time in the space of 12 months.

It comes a little more than two years after Soward was preparing to make his State Of Origin debut.

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Dragons coach Steve Price excused Soward from training for a couple of days “to clear his head” after St George Illawarra’s narrow loss to the Bulldogs.

And speaking only hours before the Dragons confirmed Soward was again NSW Cup-bound, Creagh stressed the much-maligned pivot still had the full support of his teammates.

“He does – 100 per cent,” Creagh said. “Pricey has given him a couple of days off to clear his head. I’m sure he’ll be at training [today] and we’ll get on with it.”

Soward, who will turn out for the Cutters in an NRL curtain-raiser against Newcastle on Saturday, has already inked a four-year deal with Penrith from 2014.

His manager Sam Ayoub said Soward hadn’t asked for a mid-season release and would play out the year in Wollongong.

Chase Stanley has been named to replace Soward at five-eighth for the Dragons’ crucial clash against the Knights, with Nathan Green promoted to the centres.

Utility Will Matthews was the only other player to be caught in the selection squeeze, but Price stressed the entire squad needed to take responsibility for the Dragons’ recent run of outs.

“We’re all accountable – myself included – and every player that takes the football field,” he said.

“We’ve got roles to play and it’s important that each individual plays those roles.”

The Dragons named Origin duo Brett Morris and Trent Merrin – pending their fitness after the series opener tonight – with Daniel Vidot relegated to an extended bench.

Prop Dan Hunt is in line to return from a knee injury, but Matt Cooper remains sidelined with a toe complaint. “It’s another big test for us and most of these games are must-win for us,” Creagh said.

“A lot of the guys know that, but we’re not too far away.”

Creagh and Michael Weyman addressed more than 200 teenage boys at an inspiration day for the Top Blokes Foundation at WIN Stadium yesterday.

“We’re giving all these young teenagers a bit of insight in how we achieved our dreams [of playing NRL], about how we got there, goal setting and that’s extremely important – not only in footy but in life as well,” Creagh said.

Jamie Soward, right. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

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