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Taking on North Queensland at WIN Stadium, the Dragons are set to be without at least seven regular starters who have withdrawn through injury, suspension or Origin duty.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