THE St George Illawarra Dragons have named a 20-man squad for the annual Charity Shield fixture against the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Sunday, February 19 at ANZ Stadium.
Gerringong-product Tariq Sims has been named, while skipper Gareth Widdop, Josh Dugan, Tyson Frizell, Jason Nightingale and Russell Packer will all play their first football for the Dragons in 2017.
New recruit and World All Star Paul Vaughan will also play his first football for the Dragons against South Sydney.
After playing at the Auckland Nines, fellow recruits Cameron McInnes and Nene Macdonald have earned their first 80-minute game at the Red V.
Dragons assistant coach Ben Hornby believes the squad named is close to the club’s best considering injured players such as Mose Masoe are still unavailable for selection.
"This is close to our best squad at the moment, the coaching staff thinks," Hornby said.
"While we'll still going to give some guys some opportunities to impress, it'll be close to our starting side.
“This trial is more about getting those combinations going before the season starts.
"It'll be a good start for the boys to get into competition-mode. We're looking forward to it and I'm sure the Rabbitohs are too."
Hornby was also impressed by the Dragons’ 20-10 trial win over the Wests Tigers last Saturday at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
"It was a good first hit-out,” Hornby said.
"I thought we played fairly well. We had a bit of a slow start which is probably to be expected in your first game.
"We were good enough to come over the top of them so it was pretty pleasing overall."
Charity Shield squad (in alphabetical order): Leeson Ah Mau, Euan Aitken, Jack de Belin, Josh Dugan, Jai Field, Tyson Frizell, Jacob Host, Tim Lafai, Nene Macdonald, Kurt Mann, Will Matthews, Cameron McInnes, Josh McCrone, Taane Milne, Jason Nightingale, Russell Packer, Tariq Sims, Joel Thompson, Paul Vaughan, Gareth Widdop.