Nightingale: Centres Is A Balancing Act
By Martin Gabor (NRL.com)
Jason Nightingale has made a name for himself as one of the most acrobatic finishers in the game, but it's the balancing act required by the Dragons' coaching staff that is the centre of attention.
Several teams, including the Dragons, found themselves involved in an off-season merry-go-round that led to a host of centres switching clubs.
With Kurt Mann and Tim Lafai joining the Red V, the Dragons now have a glut of talent at their disposal, including Euan Aitken, who scored six tries in his debut season.
Then there's Josh Dugan. The NSW State of Origin fullback debuted for the Dragons in round 10, 2013, and has since made the No.1 jersey his own. That could all change in 2016.
"I think that's the benefit we've got at the moment. We've got three or four high class centres, so it'll be interesting to see which way they go," Nightingale said.
"I think Euan went really well over in the Nines and it'll be interesting to see who lines up aside of Duges."
"That's what these trials are for – to see who does rise to the top."
After captaining the team at the Downer Auckland Nines, Dugan is set to miss Saturday evening's Charity Shield, with Mann to fill in at the back.
This weekend's match is more than just a trial for both teams, but Nightingale says fans shouldn't read too much into the final score.
"I don't think it's really about the result," Nightingale said ahead of the clash with Souths.
"Obviously you go out every game and you want to win. It's always a big occasion – it's the biggest pre-season game in our calendar. It's something we look forward to every year.
"I think it's an opportunity to work on what you've been doing and also do that under a bit of competition with a prize at the end. All those things make it an intriguing encounter. I'm very much looking forward to this one as well.
The 33rd instalment of the annual pre-season fixture will be an opportunity for other new recruits to impress.
"Siliva [Havili] went pretty well up in Queensland. He's very direct and sharp out of dummy half," Nightingale continued.
"Dunamis [Lui] was definitely a standout over in the Nines. He ran really well, so I'm looking forward to seeing him in action."
One man who won't pull on the famed Red V anytime soon is new signing Mose Masoe.
The former Rooster, Panther and St Helens forward tore his anterior cruciate ligament at training last week and is expected to miss the majority of the 2016 season.
"He was definitely a great inclusion to our club – and still will be – when he gets back from rehab," Nightingale said.
"Obviously those things happen, and it's a massive shame. We saw a few of those things happen over the weekend. It seems to happen quite a lot in the pre-season.
"I'm sure there are plenty of factors that go into that. A bit of extra running and plus probably not used to the work we're putting into our legs.
"It's sad to lose him, but he'll be back bigger and better."