By Mary Maidiotis

St George Illawarra Dragons second-rower Will Matthews is keen to lace up the boots again in the local derby against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Remondis Stadium, Cronulla on Sunday.

Matthews, 27, missed the recent fixture against the North Queensland Cowboys through suspension and admits he is excited to return to the team and take on some of his former teammates this weekend.

The Kyogle Turkeys junior believes the Red-and-Whites have enough depth to cover the four-week loss of Trent Merrin and rejoin the winners’ circle thanks to the confidence in ability within the squad.

“The suspension wasn’t a planned week off so it was disappointing and it came at a bad time too, we had a few injuries and were missing our Origin players so I’m excited to get back into the team this week,” said Matthews.

“We’ve had a few losses in a row so we need to return to the winners’ circle and the local derby is always guaranteed to be a massive clash, it’s going to be pretty intense so we’re really looking forward to it.

“We have a pretty good record against the Sharks and the derby obviously means a lot to the boys so everyone steps up for it.

“I’m looking forward to going up against Jack Bird, it’s great to play against your mates, people I’ve played with and trained with adds a different dimension to the game so it’s always good fun.

“Trent is a massive part of our team so his suspension will hurt us but that’s footy, things go wrong sometimes but we have a good squad with plenty of guys capable of stepping up.

“I think it’s just a matter of returning to the way we were playing a few weeks ago, that gritty style of footy.

“We’re still getting close in games but we’re not quite getting the result, I think if we go back to the way we were playing, everyone can do that and we are confident in our ability.”