St George Illawarra Dragons centre Charly Runciman is determined to work hard and return to playing first-grade for the Red V.

The 20-year-old is one of a contingent of Dragons playrs named for the Illawarra Cutters in their opening round NSW Cup clash against Wests Tigers at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Saturday.

The Under 20s NSW Blues State of Origin Representative, presently studying Civil Engineering with the University of Wollongong, admits there are several players in the mix for a centres spot, including Dylan Farrell, Nathan Green and Gerard Beale, and knows hardwork is the only way to get ahead.

“I’m looking forward to playing some good footy with the Cutters this weekend and playing well each week pushing for a spot in first-grade," said Runciman.

"There is a lot of competition for a spot in the centres which can only bring out the best in players who want it the most.

"I will keep working hard in training and see what happens, in the meantime it is all about getting the two points for the Cutters.

“This year will be easier for me at university because I’m taking on less subjects and do it part time; I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“Going to uni gives me balance, it gives me something to do outside of footy and get my mind off it; sometimes that’s what I need to get my mind sorted for footy.

“I have about four years left of my degree if I’m doing it part time; it’s a fairly long process but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m studying Civil Engineering so I’ll be looking into roads, bridges and buildings which I’m really excited about.

“I’m just trying to get through my degree step by step and as quickly as I can."