NO Wayne Bennett, no Mark Gasnier and no hope of winning the premiership - the St George Illawarra Dragons are enjoying silencing those who dared to write them off.
Eight rounds into the season, the Dragons are fourth on the ladder, and second-rower Nick Emmett said those who wear the famous Red V will get better with each game.
The 29-year-old has not played yet this year after injuring his back a couple of weeks before the round one clash against Newcastle.
He injured it again trying to prove his fitness for that game.
The time on the sidelines has given Emmett, who was born in Grafton, but grew up in Hervey Bay, the chance to have a good look at his teammates, and he likes what he sees.
"The combinations are starting to gel - it was always going to take time," Emmett, who has played 17 times for the Dragons since joining them from the Broncos in 2009, said after training yesterday.
"The same applies with having a new coach, but Steve (coach Steve Price) has settled into the role well. We're going good and I'm confident we'll improve each week."
One of the plans Price has put into play in recent weeks was moving Brett Morris to fullback, Emmett saying it had worked a treat.
"It was only supposed to be a temporary thing because of injuries, but Brett has been outstanding - he's killed it to be honest," Emmett said.
"The move has also given us another attacking weapon and I think Brett must now be in serious contention to be the New South Wales fullback in Origin I."
Talking of Origin, Emmett said that was when he was hoping to be back in contention.
"We are bound to have a few boys away on duty so I want to be able to play," Emmett, who signed a new one-year deal last year, said.
"I've only been able to do some rehab work and no running for two months but hopefully I'll be able to start doing that (running) soon.
"Well, I hope I can because we've got the Dragons calendar shoot coming up soon and I've got a bit flabby around the middle," he laughed.
On a serious note, Emmett said his teammates knew they had a tough assignment to tackle in Townsville on Friday night - the Cowboys.
"They (the Cowboys) are a team where you just don't know what you are going to get," he said.
"One week they are brilliant, the next they are terrible.
"We just need to be on our guard and keep playing right to the death, like we did against the Roosters on Anzac Day."
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