McGregor: Spots Up For Grabs

McGregor: Spots Up For Grabs

St George Illawarra Dragons Head Coach Paul McGregor admits there are positions up for the grabs in the line ahead of the annual Charity Shield fixture at ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park on Saturday.

McGregor has named a 25-man squad for the traditional pre-season game which sees halfback Benji Marshall play his first competitive fixture of the pre-season alongside Drew Hutchison in the halves.

Furthermore, new recruit Kurt Mann has been named as fullback in lieu of Josh Dugan who has been rested.

The Dragons will be without the services of captain Gareth Widdop and Joel Thompson for the pre-season fixture due to their participation in the annual NRL All-Stars match.

“The Charity Shield is always a special game played for a worthy cause and signals the start of the footy season which means it won’t be taken lightly,” said McGregor.

“We’ll be missing five players for the game but our depth is certainly a lot deeper than it has been in recent years so it’s up to the guys available to go out there and play and try and win a spot in the 17.

“It’s not just a trial, it’s an opportunity for them to present themselves well.

“We do have a plan regarding how many minutes each player will play on the field and the guys that are new to the Club as well as the younger guys will also get their chance out there.

“The majority of the first-grade team will get their chance over the first sixty minutes of play.

“Drew Hutchison deserves his spot partnering Benji Marshall as his pre-season has been exceptional and has arrived early most mornings before most of the squad arrives to start his preparations.

“He is in good shape and gets the jump on Josh McCrone who missed a bit of the pre-season through illness so the opportunity is there for Drew to hold his spot and play well.

“It will also be good to play the centres in their preferred positions and obviously Kurt at fullback with Josh Dugan missing this weekend.

“It is important we are able to rest important players at different times and that opportunity has come with Josh this time around.

“It will be a good chance for Kurt and Adam Quinlan to make the most of their opportunities.

“Kurt has had a good pre-season training and has been involved in a lot of our ball work plays in the role and he will get the opportunity this week and next to prove he is worthy of getting that position.

“I will keep saying though that Josh is the present NSW Blues fullback so someone will need to play exceptionally well in these trials to change his role.

“He is a big powerful runner who brings the ball back better than most and has good skills to score where Kurt offers more of an opportunity to play off him.

“Kurt’s versatility is also very important to any squad having the ability to jump in the halves, in the centres or on the wing.”

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