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26 Apr 2018 2:32
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Dragons ready to embrace NRL rep period

    The representative period destroyed St George Illawarra's season last year, but coach Paul McGregor wants his unbeaten players to be rewarded in 2018.

    - article from

    St George Illawarra are ready to embrace the representative period that ultimately proved to be their undoing last year.

    The Dragons could have up to six players in the hunt for State of Origin selection, while three more are frontrunners to head to Denver for the mid-year Test between England and New Zealand.

    Undefeated after six rounds, the Dragons find themselves flying at this point in the season for the second year in a row and coach Paul McGregor insists they have learned from last year's collapse.

    But the next three months will determine how far they've come, after they collapsed to drop seven of 10 games through last year's representative season before missing the finals.

    On that occasion they lost Gareth Widdop to injury, while Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell were their only Origin representatives.

    Those losses could plausibly triple in 2018, with Paul Vaughan, Cameron McInnes, Euan Aitken and Jack de Belin all hopeful of joining Frizell in Blues camp against Queenslander Ben Hunt, while Gareth Widdop, James Graham and Jason Nightingale will likely be Denver-bound.

    Not that McGregor has any qualms.

    "For anyone, to be successful in anything you've got to have a purpose," McGregor said.

    "And if you've got a purpose you've got to have a passion for that purpose. And then you've got to be disciplined around your passion you should.

    "If my players ... are successful because of the passion they are showing and the purpose they've got with it, you've got to reward it."

    But McGregor has a simple message for his players: The only way they'll do that is if the Dragons keep performing.

    "It's about our team, it's got to be we before me, and if they're playing well in four or five weeks time, they'll get rewarded," he said.

    "They've got to replace players who are current Australian players in their position. So to do that it's about playing well for a long period of time."

    McInnes, Vaughan, Aitken and de Belin each did their Origin chances no harm with tries in Friday's 40-20 win over Cronulla.

    McInnes was particularly impressive with his 50-metre dash from dummy-half to score, heating up the race for the NSW No.9 jersey after Damien Cook starred for South Sydney on Thursday night.

    "He's quite quick," McGregor said.

    "Cam is a real person the team needs.

    "If you look at our spine we've got two guys in Gareth and Ben (Hunt) who like to play on the ball.

    "You've got a fullback in (Matt) Dufty that is around the footy. And you've got an unselfish player like Cam to give him and others the ball.

    "So with the balance there no one is fighting over it. And when he sees an opportunity like he did, he finishes them off."


    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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