The St George Illawarra Dragons have named a strong line up for the club’s first trial match of 2015, against Intrust Super Cup team the Mackay Cutters at Mackay Stadium on Saturday, January 31.
With Head Coach Paul McGregor away at the Auckland Nines, Assistant Coach Dean Young is set to take control of the squad which features plenty of new faces.
“The named squad is excited to be competing in their first competitive hit-out of the pre-season in what will most probably be played in hot conditions,” Young told the Dragons’ website.
“We have opted to include a lot of our first-grade forwards in the trial to help get the combinations going within the pack and they will come-up against a strong team in the Mackay Cutters.
“This trial is about making sure all the players named get a solid hit-out and implementing what we have been practicing on the training field including defensive and attacking structures.
“Several Illawarra Cutters and NYC players have also been named in the team and they too will benefit from the trial for their upcoming respective seasons.”
Dane Nielson and Dylan Farrell form a potent centre pairing while young half back Drew Hutchinson gets a big opportunity alongside England international Gareth Widdop.
Former Melbourne Storm and Parramatta Eels lower grader Rulon Nutira, who spent 2014 with the Gundegai Tigers in Group 9, has been named as has Rory O’Brien, the two recruited to add much-needed size to the Dragons’ pack.
Heath L’Estrange and Kris Keating, who will likely battle it out to be Mitch Rein’s deputy have both been named as well as experienced prop George Rose and former New Zealand Warriors National Youth Competition star Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard.
Trent Merrin, still undecided about his playing future beyond 2015, has been named as well as Leeson Ah Mau, but both Ben Creagh and Jack De Belin have been rested.
St George Illawarra Dragons Team for trial vs Mackay Cutters, January 31, 2015
1. Matt Dufty (NYC)
2. Charly Runciman
3. Dane Nielsen
4. Dylan Farrell
5. Tyrone Cranston (Illawarra Cutters)
6. Gareth Widdop
7. Drew Hutchison
8. Leeson Ah Mau
9. Mitch Rein
10. Rory O’Brien
11. Jake Marketo
12. Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard
13. Trent Merrin
14. Kris Keating
15. Heath L’Estrange
16. George Rose
17. Rulon Nutira
18. Tekina Vailea (Illawarra Cutters)
19. Nathan Smith (Illawarra Cutters)
20. Geoff Daniela (Illawarra Cutters)
21. Andrew McCarthy (Illawarra Cutters)