Aitken: We've Had Long Look At Ourselves
By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
While most of the NRL has been up in arms about five-day turnarounds throughout the season, let's spare a thought for the seven men from the Dragons and Raiders who will have to play four days after last Sunday's Country v City game.
Dragons forward Jack de Belin would have made it an even eight of those backing up for Thursday's game but hasn't been named by coach Paul McGregor this week.
The Raiders have named Country's Shannon Boyd, Paul Vaughan, Jack Wighton and skipper Jarrod Croker as well as City's Aidan Sezer to all back up at UOW Jubilee Oval.
Country and Dragons centre Euan Aitken said the four-day gap between games was tough for all involved.
"We all talked about the short turnaround and how it was a bad decision to play on a Thursday night after a Sunday rep game. Five days I can understand, but either way I'm sure we'll be ready to go," Aitken said.
"It's not optimal but we have a lot of recovery strategies to help us get as good as we can for the shorter turnarounds but obviously it's a thing the NRL needs to look at.
"It's going to be hard but I've always had the energy to play rugby league. It's a passion of mine so I really want to turn it up on Thursday and really prove why I was selected for Country Origin."
Aitken believes the Dragons' last start loss to the Warriors will be the wake-up the team needed.
Even without the suspended Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Albert Vete and Sam Lisone, the Warriors still managed to produce a 16-point win over a complacent-looking Dragons side.
"After our third-of-the-season review, we had to have a look at ourselves personally and as a team and I daresay we'll be working on those things against the Raiders," Aitken said.
"Our loss to the Warriors was so disappointing. We turned up with the wrong attitude and that's the main thing we have been talking about.
"We just can't turn up with a bad attitude against a team because we think we're going to win. There was a bit of complacency there but it was a good wake-up call for ourselves."