THE St George Illawarra Dragons will be the first to admit it's been a tough couple of weeks for the club.
From injuries and suspensions to back-to-back losses, including Friday's golden point thriller to Cronulla-Sutherland, the club has been forced to deal with a lot lately.
But Albion Park-Oak Flats product Adam Clune believes his side is still in good spirits while trying to take everything in their stride.
"Losing in that fashion [golden point] is never easy, as we obviously put in a lot of effort to get us into a position to win the game," Clune said.
"Especially when we had our own chances to win the match, both towards the end and in golden point - it was very disappointing.
"There's little things, both offensively and defensively that we could have done better, to help us win that game - which realistically could have gone either way.
"From my perspective, as a half, you want to be the one that gets the boys home in those tight contests but on this occasion, us as a spine couldn't get the job done but we will grow from this I'm sure."
Friday's fixture at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium marked just his sixth appearance in 2021, as the Red V's depth continues to be tested.
"We've used close to all 30 of our players in the top grade, not to mention some development players, which not only highlights the depth we have here but it'll also hold us in good stead moving forward," the 25-year-old said.
"Everyone has shown they are up to this level, which is a really promising sign for the club not only this season but for the years ahead."
Following Friday's round 11 game, Dragons forward Josh Kerr been added to the club's unavailability list, after being suspended one game for a high tackle.
"This new rule interpretation is part of the game now and we've all got to adjust," the former Junee Diesel said.
"No player goes out there to deliberately make high tackles and with most of them being incidental, that's where most of the frustration from a player's perspective is coming from.
"Especially as a lot of the time, players are falling and get hit in the head but that's just the way the game is at the moment."
The Group Seven junior has also been trying to deal with these new rules as part of the Rugby League Players Association.
"I'm only really working with the numbers with the RLPA and haven't been involved in all of the discussions," he said.
"But this is definitely a big issue for the players and the RPLA, which has seen plenty of discussions going on.
"I know the RLPA have been really good at getting the players' opinions and communicating them to the NRL and I'm sure that'll continue in the future."
On the field, Clune and his side will be out to end a two-game skid when they take on the Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium on Friday night.
"The Tigers got the better of us a couple of weeks ago and there's plenty of positives to take from the Sharks' loss, as we were thereabouts," he said.
"If we continue to do the little things well and concentrate on our own games, I'm confident we can get the win.
"Losing [Josh] Kerry hurts but we regain Tariq [Sims] from suspension, as well as another couple outside backs - not to mention Gerard Beale is in the mix to make his return for the club.
"It's exciting for all of us that those players are available to strengthen our squad and if we continue to build as we have, I'm confident we will come out on top after the 80 minutes."
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