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St George Illawarra Dragons lock Jake Marketo is counting down the days until he can return to the field and don the famous Red V jersey once again.

Marketo, 25, played 14 first-grade games for the Dragons prior to his departure at the end of the 2012 campaign, admits he is really enjoying training at the moment and is working hard to once again play first-grade.

The Holy Cross Rhinos junior, who returned to the Dragons during the off-season, will have his first opportunity to cement a first-grade spot soon having been named in the pre-season fixture against the Mackay Cutters at Mackay Stadium on Saturday, January 31.

McGregor has named a 21-man travelling squad for the trial match against the Queensland Cup opponents comprising of Dragons NRL and NYC players as well as several others from the Illawarra Cutters.

“I’m loving pre-season at the moment,” said Marketo.

“Just after Christmas we had a pretty tough week coming back in and getting the body ready but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“We get to play a trial against the Mackay Cutters next week and then that leads into the new season so I’m really looking forward to it.

“Everyone is sort of on edge about who will line-up for the first game of the new season.

“We are starting to get our combinations out on the field so we are really looking forward to playing.

“It will be good to get a full 80 minutes under my belt hopefully in the trial and wherever McGregor puts me, I’ll be looking forward to putting the Red V on.”