The St George Illawarra Dragons have named their line-up for the inaugural Alex McKinnon Cup match against the Newcastle Knights at Hunters Stadium, Newcastle on Saturday.
Head Coach Paul McGregor has named an 18-man travelling squad for the fixture which includes prop Rory O’Brien named on a five-man extended interchange.
The Alex McKinnon Cup is a new initiative to honour the 23-year-old player who has a strong association with both clubs.
The Dragons High Performance Unit graduate paved his way through the Dragons development pathway before ultimately making his NRL debut for the Dragons during the 2011 campaign.
McKinnon made three first-grade appearances in total for the Dragons prior to joining the Knights ahead of the 2012 season but still maintains some strong friendships at the Club.
“It’s a great initiative between both the Dragons and the Knights that they will be contesting for a trophy named in Alex’s honour as he has a strong connection to both clubs,” said Dragons prop and close friend Jack de Belin.
“I have no doubt that it will mean a lot to both clubs to be able to play in his honour and I know it will be a special occasion for everyone involved.
“It will mean a lot to me personally being able to play in the game as we are great mates, both went to boarding school together and later came through the ranks together at the Dragons.
“There are a lot of players here at the Dragons who also share similar strong associations with Alex and we all cannot wait to take to the field on Saturday."
1. Josh Dugan
2. Eto Nabuli
3. Euan Aitken
4. Dylan Farrell
5. Jason NIghtingale
6. Gareth Widdop
7. Benji Marshall
8. Leeson Ah Mau
9. Mitch Rein
10. Mike Cooper
11. Tyson Frizell
12. Joel Thompson
13. Trent Merrin
14. George Rose
15. Jack de Belin
16. Jake Marketo
17. Heath L’Estrange
20. Rory O’Brien
Unavailable: Ben Creagh (Back – Round 7); Dan Hunt (Knee – TBC); Dane Nielsen (Suspended).
Furthermore, the Dragons have received and approved a formal release request from Beau Henry and his Management to enable him to take up an opportunity elsewhere.