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NRL Team: Round 1 v Penrith Panthers

St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has named his mandatory 21-man squad for the Dragons' Round 1 clash against the Penrith Panthers at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah this Saturday, March 4.

Paul Vaughan, Nene Macdonald and Cameron McInnes have all been named to make their club debuts, while Jai Field and Hame Sele will potentially make their NRL debuts.

Josh McCrone has won the battle for the No. 7 jumper following Drew Hutchison's unfortunate season-ending ACL injury suffered in the off-season.

Young back-rower Jacob Host is keen to solidify his place in the Dragons' NRL team after being named to play in just his ninth first grade game.

"This is my second year around all the boys now and it's always been about building myself up every day and trying to learn as much off them as I possibly can," Host said.

"While I'm young, I have to try and better myself every day which is what I've tried to do over the pre-season.

"It's always great when the start of the season comes around. Everyone's spirits are really up and everyone is really excited for Round 1."

NRL Team for Round 1 v Penrith Panthers:

1. Josh Dugan

2. Nene Macdonald

3. Euan Aitken

4. Tim Lafai

5. Jason Nightingale

6. Gareth Widdop

7. Josh McCrone

8. Russell Packer

9. Cameron McInnes

10. Paul Vaughan

11. Tyson Frizell

12. Joel Thompson

13. Jack de Belin

Interchange

14. Tariq Sims

15. Leeson Ah Mau

16. Jacob Host

17. Jai Field

18. Kurt Mann

19. Taane Milne

20. Jake Marketo

21. Hame Sele

Players unavailable:

Will Matthews (hip) – indefinite

Kiti Glymin (shoulder) – indefinite

Siliva Havili (knee) – indefinite

Drew Hutchison (knee) – season.