By Mary Maidiotis
St George Illawarra Dragons captain Ben Creagh is looking forward to playing in front of his local crowd when his side takes on the North Queensland Cowboys at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Saturday.
Creagh, 30, admits that while it is unfortunate the side has been hit with injuries, there are several players prepared to step up from the Illawarra Cutters side and fill the spots.
The Wollongong University junior is grateful for the combination developed by halves pairing Benji Marshall and Gareth Widdop, a bond that the unseasoned Cowboys halves will be lacking.
“I’m very excited to come back to WIN on Saturday, it’s our home ground and it would be awesome to see a big crowd out here when we’re playing against one of the top sides of the competition,” said Creagh.
“There are a lot of new faces around the place at the moment, covering for a few injuries and a few guys who are unfortunately not around the club anymore.
“It’s their first day at training, it’s a bit difficult coming in midway through the season and learning attack and defence but they were great today.
“They’ve got a lot to learn, our attacking structures, our defensive structures, and to learn that in three days would be a big ask so we just have to see how everyone pulls up after today’s session and also how Will Matthews goes tonight at the judiciary.
“We’ve had a pretty good run so far this year with injuries but unfortunately it’s all hit us at once, which is a shame but better now than in round 26.
“In saying that, the Cutters have been playing really well lately and a lot of their guys have been playing some good footy so it gives those guys an opportunity to play first grade, they’ve been training well and I’m looking forward to possibly playing alongside them on Saturday.
“I hope Jason Nightingale is ready to play on Saturday, he took last week off which was just precautionary.
“Justin Hunt is in form and playing good footy for the Cutters so he’d do a great job for us in first-grade, we just have to see how everyone pulls up.
“We’re very lucky to have probably the two form halves of the competition and the combination they’ve struck up this season has been outstanding so to have those guys steering our attack is a big positive for us.
“I wouldn’t say the Cowboys halves are inexperienced, the two guys have played plenty of first-grade and they’re two dangerous players who are getting their opportunity so they’re going to be tough to handle.”