St George Illawarra Dragons fullback Josh Dugan is eager to be involved in the 31st Annual Charity Shield match against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Saturday.
The NSW Blues State of Origin representative is feeling ready for the 2014 season after enduring an arduous preseason with the Red V.
The 23-year-old is enthusiastic about rekindling on field combinations with halfback Sam Williams in the first Charity Shield match held outside of Sydney.
“We’ve had a tough preseason but we’re all better for it and we’re ready to go for the Charity Shield this weekend and in two weeks for Round 1,” said Dugan.
“The Nines was different, it was difficult to get used to in the first few games but we finished on a high note which is something we wanted to achieve and I think we’ll be better next year.
“It was a bit of fun and I think it was good to get that new support in Auckland.
“I was saying before Christmas that I wanted to put on a bit of weight for the start of the season and I’ve stuck pretty solid at 102kg and I feel comfortable there; I’ve kept my speed and agility and increased my strength.
“Everything is going really well; we came out unscathed through the trials and preseason so we’re just looking forward to getting into the Charity Shield and the start of the season.
“We’ve done a fair bit of work on our combinations since being back after Christmas so I think we’re doing really well in that department.
“We have some new halves in Sam Williams, Gareth Widdop and Michael Witt so everything is going along smoothly.
“I played with Sam in Canberra and he’s a good player with a good kicking game and I’m looking forward to linking up on the field with him again.
“We played a fair bit together and I grew up playing with him in the 20s so we have that combination there and Joel Thompson is here this year with Bronson Harrison so it will be good to see what other combinations we can come up with out there.”
Click here for the Dragons Charity Shield Line-Up!