By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
This weekend may be Jason Nightingale's sixth time playing at the Sydney Cricket Ground but it doesn't mean his appreciation for the iconic venue has wavered over the years.
With the Dragons hosting the Rabbitohs at the SCG to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Grand Final in the showcase game of the Men in League Heritage Round, Nightingale understands there are certain aspects of the ground which add to the uniqueness of playing there.
"You notice it mostly in the sheds, you don't often sit in cricket sheds and warm up so it does give you a bit of an insight into what it would've been like back in the days with all these grand finals and big matches that were played at this ground," Nightingale said.
"Then when you do get out there it feels very large and unusual because you are on an oval ground but I think it adds to the spectacle.
"Seeing all the highlights of the big games that St George were involved in at the SCG and to see people stacked up on the hill on the old footage, it's awesome to be able to be here amongst it and trying to recreate it."
Speaking at Wednesday's launch for Heritage Round, Nightingale laughed at suggestions he hated the Rabbitohs, unlike legendary halfback Billy Smith who said the Dragons of yesteryear hated those in the cardinal and myrtle.
"It's just a competitive rivalry and there's a lot of respect between us players as well. I think Billy is spicing it up as Billy does, I'm sure he wouldn't be saying it if he were about to run out against Souths on the weekend," Nightingale said.
"I don't really hate anyone. We have rivalries with teams and you want to beat them all the time but I don't feel a hate when I play a team."
The occasion could be the motivation his side needs to reverse their current five-game losing streak, Nightingale said he is hopeful the Dragons can bounce back after losing both their right to call themselves competition frontrunners and the best defensive team in the NRL over this recent period.
"The sooner we [win] the better and we'll be looking to do so on Saturday. It will be a big challenge as well so that will definitely brighten us up a bit considering we're going through a tough time at the moment," Nightingale said.
"We do need something and the best way to do that is to get a win against quality opposition and South Sydney is definitely that."