By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
Dragon Tyson Frizell's recurring lower back injury won't prevent him from taking the field for the inaugural World Stars team in February.
In and out of rehab all pre-season, the 24-year-old had his list of motivations for 2016 expand on Tuesday when he was named to face the Indigenous All Stars in the annual February clash by coach Wayne Bennett.
A Wales international eligible to play for Tonga as well as NSW and Australia after making his Country Origin debut last season, Frizell fits the billing for a World Stars call up.
Named alongside St George Illawarra five-eighth Gareth Widdop in the team, Frizell will partner New Zealand captain Simon Mannering and the Rabbitohs' Sam Burgess in a formidable back-row partnership
"It's been a tough pre-season of late, my back is a slight reoccurring injury so I'm just looking after my body at the moment," Frizell said.
"I've been in full training all pre-season long but with the rehab making me share my time on and off the field I should be sweet again by the New Year.
"It's a nice honour to be picked amongst a high calibre of players so it's something new to me and something I bet I'll enjoy and take plenty away from it.
"I played for Wales a few times now and I hold a lot of pride towards my background so it's nice to be recognised as a Welsh international playing in the All Stars."
Closer to home, Frizell was excited by Russell Packer's clearance to remain in the country and at the Dragons after being informed he wouldn't be deported back to New Zealand.
"It's great news for Russell and his family. He can put that stuff behind him now and concentrate on footy. He loves the team and all he wants to do is stay so it's good to see him hanging around a bit longer," Frizell said.
"He was able to leave that stuff outside of his footy though – when he gets to training he didn't worry about it – so it's a credit to him the way he's dealt with it all over the past few months.
"He has a lot of experience under his belt and he is someone we need in our forward pack. He's done his time in NSW Cup and he's ready to step up and make his way back to the NRL."
With Packer joining an already rock solid list of forwards, Frizell was happy to label St George Illawarra's pack as one of the best in the NRL.
While Trent Merrin's departure might have some impact on the way they perform next season, the Dragons have been able to sign up Dunamis Lui, Sebastine Ikahihifo and Mose Masoe for 2016 and beyond.
"I think we consider ourselves good competition," Frizell said.
"I won't say we rate ourselves as the best because there are a lot of quality sides out there but we do think we're one of the top forward packs going around."