Drag­ons told to fire up

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - NICK WAL­SHAW

ST GE­ORGE Illawarra coach Paul McGre­gor has urged his in­jury- rav­aged side to be “des­per­ate” tonight as the club lurches on the edge of its fourth con­sec­u­tive loss.

Tak­ing on North Queens­land at WIN Sta­dium, the Drag­ons are set to be with­out at least seven reg­u­lar starters who have with­drawn through in­jury, sus­pen­sion or Ori­gin duty.

“So we need to be des­per­ate,’’ McGre­gor said. “We need to have ev­ery sin­gle player per- form­ing to their po­ten­tial.

“In re­cent weeks we’ve lost to Par­ra­matta by four. To the Roost­ers by five. So they were close, but still they’re losses.

“We just need to get the job done against the Cow­boys. We need to make the right de­ci­sions, es­pe­cially at times when we’re un­der fa­tigue.”

While North Queens­land will be miss­ing four play­ers to Ori­gin – Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou and Michael Mor­gan – the Drag­ons are also with­out a host of reg­u­lars in­clud­ing Blues Josh Du­gan and Trent Mer­rin, in­jured Test winger Ja­son Nightin­gale and Coun­try for­ward Joel Thomp­son.

Else­where, Jack de Belin has been struck down by a mys­tery ill­ness, Will Matthews is sus­pended and prop Rory O’Brien is also no guar­an­tee to play.

Star back­rower Tyson Frizell is another who hasn’t been named, although McGre­gor re­vealed the 23- year- old would be given un­til this morn­ing to prove his fit­ness for the clash.

With both Du­gan and Nightin­gale side­lined, McGre­gor hinted the full­back role would be filled by ei­ther cen­tre Peter Mata’utia or Justin Hunt, who has been re­cruited from Par­ra­matta.

“Justin and Peter have both been train­ing at full­back,’’ he said. “We won’t make a fi­nal de­ci­sion un­til Satur­day.

“But if Justin does play, it’s credit to the guy. He has worked re­ally hard in NSW Cup, worked hard on his con­sis­tency.

“I think he’s been let down a bit in the last 12 months, hasn’t re­ally had op­por­tu­nity. So if he does get one you’d like to think he will play well.

“You need to play well to have a job ... and rugby league is his job.”

Asked where he ex­pected the Cow­boys to be most dan­ger­ous, McGre­gor nom­i­nated hooker Jake Granville.

“Their Nine is a big dan­ger, def­i­nitely,’’ the coach said.

“He’s elu­sive out of dummy half and chal­lenges down the tram­lines. We’ll have to do a lot of work on him.

“Lach­lan Coote is another one while, in the halves, Robert Lui is ex­pe­ri­enced.

“Ob­vi­ously they’re los­ing Ori­gin play­ers but they won with­out them against the Tigers. They de­fended their way to vic­tory in that one, and we ex­pect them to do the same against us.”

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