WHILE the St George Illawarra Dragons may be sitting comfortably atop the NRL ladder, a dark storm cloud is looming on the horizon.
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That storm cloud comes in the form of State Of Origin and the havoc the interstate contest could wreak on the club’s NRL side.
As many as seven of the Dragons starting 13 could be in line for Origin selection, with a further three likely to play in Denver during the representative weekend in the England-New Zealand Test match.
The pressure then, will turn to those on the fringe of the first grade squad to step in and pick up where the stars left off. Thankfully for Dragons fans, a host of youngsters are sniffing around the edges of the team eager to step up when their name is called.
Coach Paul McGregor has selected Reece Robson on the bench for this weekend’s clash against Melbourne as a possible replacement for Cameron McInnes and Jacob Host featured in the Dragons Anzac Day victory.
With Ben Hunt in career-best form, a Queensland origin selection is looking likely and boom junior Jai Field, from Shellharbour, has put his hand up as a possible replacement for the halfback.
“I’d like to think I can play there,” Group Seven product Field said.
“I’ve been playing NSW Cup and we’ve had a couple of poor team performances the last couple of weeks, if we’re not performing very well, you never know what’s going to happen.
“But hopefully if Ben is selected and I get the nod to play there, I’ll take it with both hands.”
Despite playing fullback in the NSW Cup, Field has had the opportunity to learn from Hunt and Gareth Widdop at training.
“I think Gareth plays like myself, he likes to play off the cuff, free-flowing footy and now Ben’s there complementing Gaz, he’s really taken another step in his game,” Field said.
“I’ve also played that halfback role as well, so I’ve been picking Ben’s pocket and listening to what he has to say.
“He’s played Origin, is an international half, so I’ve definitely been listening to both of them.
“Anytime I want to go up and ask Ben questions or pick his brain, he’s always been open to help.
“He’s a bit of a character, which you might not see outside the club, but he’s a good bloke and he’s always there to lend a hand.”
While Field is a young back hoping to break into the Dragons NRL side, there are also plenty of emerging forwards pushing for selection.
“Host, Zac Lomax and Josh Kerr are all hoping to feature through the Origin period.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Dragons Indigenous jersey for next week’s clash with the Rabbitohs, Kerr expressed his desire to make his debut.
“The boys have been playing out of their skin, so I really hope they do get their opportunity to play in the NSW Origin side,” Kerr said.
“Whatever happens happens for me, all I can do is keep working hard and learning off the boys up in first grade.
“I don’t want to think too far ahead because you never know what can happen, all I can do is focus on week to week and what I can do better.”
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