The St George Illawarra Dragons will commence their new campaign against the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park, Melbourne on Monday (kick-off 7.00pm).
The Red-and-Whites will field up to six new faces after a 20-man travelling squad was named by Head Coach Paul McGregor for the interstate clash which will see both teams compete for the Emergency Services Cup.
Dragons utility Kurt Mann has been named as fullback in lieu of Australia international Josh Dugan who has been named in the centres alongside new recruit Tim Lafai.
Furthermore, fellow new addition Russell Packer has been selected in the starting forward-pack and will line-up alongside childhood friend and Dragons ‘Player of the Year’ Leeson Ah Mau.
In addition, new recruits Siliva Havili, Dunamis Lui,and Tyrone McCarthy have all been named on an extended six-man interchange which also includes co-captain Ben Creagh, Peter Mata’utia and Jake Marketo.
The Storm have named a 19-man squad for the upcoming clash against the Dragons with fullback Billy Slater poised to make his return after a shoulder injury which ruled him out from the majority of last season.
1. Billy Slater
2. Young Tonumaipea
3. William Chambers
4. Richie Kennar
5. Marika Koroibete
6. Blake Green
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Cameron Smith (c)
10. Jordan McLean
11. Kevin Proctor
12. Tohu Harris
13. Dale Finucane
14. Kenny Bromwich
15. Tim Glasby
16. Ben Hampton
17. Christian Welch
18. Felise Kaufusi
19. Nelson Asofa Solomona
Dragons halfback Benji Marshall will face his opposite number in the Storm’s Cooper Cronk with both entering the twilight of their respective journeys.
Both players enjoy taking command of the team on the field and are very much involved in a lot of the attacking plays created by their respective sides.
There is no doubt both players will be looking to get an advantage on the other as they help lead their team to the valuable two competition points.
The Dragons were on the end of two defeats courtesy of their upcoming opposition when both faced one another twice last season.
The Red-and-Whites were defeated 12-4 in their corresponding opening round fixture at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah before also going down 22-4 at McLean Park, Napier in Round 20.
The Dragons have been unable to defeat their rivals on their home soil since 1999.
Emergency Services Cup
The Emergency Services Cup is an initiative between the Dragons and the Storm, with the support of the New South Wales and Victorian Governments, established in 2009.
It recognises all the Emergency Services personnel who give up their services to the communities of both States.