St George Illawarra Dragons second-rower Joel Thompson is ready to rise to the occasion when he competes in the traditional ANZAC Day Cup against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium, Moore Park on Monday.
Dragons Head Coach Paul McGregor has named a 17-man team for the traditional fixture which includes Euan Aitken named in centres as he continues his recovery from a minor hamstring strain sustained against the Gold Coast Titans last round.
Thompson believes that his teammate is rehabilitating the injury well and is hopeful of making his return for the encounter but is confident of the team’s depth if this is not the case.
Furthermore, the Dragons have agreed to release utility Peter Mata’utia from his current playing contract after the player made the request to take-up an opportunity elsewhere.
“We will all miss Pete as he’s a good guy but he has a young family and at the end of the day he has to do what he has to do,” said Thompson.
“We will miss him here and wish him all the best and wherever he goes he will do well.
“ANZAC Day is a special time for everyone and I’m really looking forward to playing in it as we love this game.
“It was a crazy game of football last year and having that stoppage halfway through due to hail was interesting.
“We expect the Roosters to have several players back in their forward pack for the game as they are important members of the team.
“Our forward pack will be ready to go and I’m sure it’ll be a good hit out.
“I am not sure how serious his hamstring is but I think Euan might play after icing up and some rest.
“If not, we have other players who can come in but we think he’ll be playing there.
“We have great depth here in the Club in the centres and with the outside backs so whoever comes in if Euan is not right will do a fine job there.”