St George Illawarra Dragons utility Josh McCrone is ready for whatever is thrown his way by the North Queensland Cowboys at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Saturday.
The Red-and-Whites enter the encounter on the back of some topsy-turvy results in recent rounds which have included victory over the Canberra Raiders (Round 10) sandwiched in between loses to the New Zealand Warriors (Round 9) and South Sydney Rabbitohs (Round 11).
McCrone, who partnered co-captain Gareth Widdop in the halves in the 34-24 loss to the Rabbitohs, concedes the team need to improve upon their kicking pressure if they are to challenge the reigning Premiers irrespective of who lines up for them.
The Temora Dragons junior notes that the task will slightly more challenging without the likes of fullback Josh Dugan and second-rower Tyson Frizell, both named in the NSW Blues State of Origin squad, but is confident their replacements will do the job.
“We didn’t really know Josh and Tyson had both been selected until we turned up to training and neither were here,” said McCrone.
“Tyson has been playing really well especially over the past month while Josh has been a powerhouse at the back.
“After the game against the Rabbitohs are kick pressure is going to have to improve which will be that little bit harder without Josh there so we will need to give whoever plays there as much support as possible.
“There were a couple of key statistics that were positives for us from that game and we both held the ball well and kicked into the corners but unfortunately our kick chase was not good enough.
“In the halves you need to build up those combinations and we did play a different style last round with Gareth holding the ball more while I was playing more of a first receiver role.
“It’s good fun playing with Gareth as he has good hands and reads the play very well.
“We learnt a big lesson when we faced the New Zealand Warriors that it doesn’t matter what 17 are put out as all players are going to be very handy.
“The Cowboys biggest strength these past couple of seasons has been the systems that they run and there’s no doubt whoever does come in will slip straight into them.”