St George Illawarra Dragons coach Paul McGregor has named his mandatory 21-man squad to face the Brisbane Broncos this Thursday, March 8 at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah.
The Dragons will kick-off at 7:50pm with the Graeme Langlands public tribute to start the night’s proceedings at 6:45pm.
St George Illawarra will also retire the No. 1 jumper on Thursday in honour of the recently passed Immortal Langlands.
Dragons fullback Matt Dufty – a local Penshurst RSL junior – will don the No.18 jumper against the Broncos in honour of who he described as his most famous Red V predecessor.
“Changa was probably the best fullback the club has had so dedicating our Round 1 game to him is something the boys and I are really happy to get behind,” Dufty said.
“Obviously it will be a special day for the St George area where he played and for the Illawarra where he was born and raised.
“Overall, the boys are ready to start ripping in and see where the season takes us.”
Tariq Sims has won the battle for the vacant back row spot left by Joel Thompson, with Luciano Leilua named on the bench alongside fellow local junior Hame Sele.
Josh Kerr and Zac Lomax have been named in the reserves and could potentially make their NRL debuts if named in coach McGregor’s final 17. Veteran duo Ben Hunt and James Graham will make their Dragons debuts.
NRL squad for Round 1 v Brisbane Broncos:
18. Matt Dufty – sponsored by Illawarra Mercury/St George & Sutherland Shire Leader
2. Nene Macdonald – sponsored by Relativity in the Loop
3. Euan Aitken – sponsored by University of Wollongong
4. Tim Lafai – sponsored by Kingsgrove Sports Centre
5. Jason Nightingale – sponsored by SMAI
6. Gareth Widdop (c) – sponsored by Dynamic Projects
7. Ben Hunt – sponsored by Paul’s Customs and Forwarding Solutions
8. James Graham – sponsored by EFEX
9. Cameron McInnes – sponsored by Floormania
10. Paul Vaughan – sponsored by My Muscle Chef
11. Tyson Frizell – sponsored by Val Morgan
12. Tariq Sims – sponsored by Destination Wollongong
13. Jack de Belin – sponsored by Wollongong Jetski
14. Luciano Leilua – sponsored by Addbuild Additions
15. Kurt Mann – sponsored by Wollongong Diagnostics
16. Leeson Ah Mau – sponsored by Westfund
17. Hame Sele – sponsored by Domus Lighting
19. Jeremy Latimore
20. Zac Lomax
21. Blake Lawrie
22. Josh Kerr