Dragons coach Paul McGregor doesn't make a habit of dishing out praise but he made an exception for utility Kurt Mann after the 24-year-old finally got a chance to play an 80-minute game against Wests Tigers ahead of what could be a solid run at fullback.

The playmaking fullback was called up at the unfamiliar position of right centre for one game to cover Euan Aitken (hamstring) before shifting to fullback with 20 minutes to go when Josh Dugan strained his hamstring.

After playing just 12 minutes in Round 2 and seven minutes in Round 4 in short stints off the bench, Mann racked up 120 metres with five tackle busts while making 15 tackles to earn the praise of his coach and teammates.

"It was really good. I've been getting minimum minutes lately, just playing off the bench and covering for a few boys with [Aitken] being injured it's just good to get an opportunity to play a few minutes and show what I'm capable of," Mann said.

"It's been a bit hard [so far this year] because I don't really know where I'm going to be playing week to week. Especially because I'm capable of playing a few different positions so it's been a bit difficult to try and nail a certain role in the team."

McGregor spoke in the post-match press conference of the importance of Mann staying patient and waiting for his chance.

"But we've seen Kurt come in and I thought he was outstanding in his game at right centre. He hasn't played there before, he's played a bit of left centre and left wing last year but he came in, he's waited for that opportunity and took that opportunity," McGregor said.

Veteran winger Jason Nightingale also praised Mann's application while waiting for his shot.

"The patience that he's showed to get in the team, he's been in the 17 every week and obviously played a full game [on Sunday] for the first time this year," Nightingale said.

"The fact that he's been able to keep his head up throughout that time puts him in a good position to take his opportunity if that is the way we go."

Mann also spoke of the encouragement McGregor had given him after the game.

"He knows it's been pretty hard for me in the last couple of weeks, especially after the season I had last year," Mann said.

"He knows it's been hard, he's been trying to give me some minutes and just hasn't been able to. He was real happy with the way I went, being ready, staying ready for my opportunity."

This article first appeared on NRL.com