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St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has named a 21-man squad ahead of the Dragons' Round 17 clash against the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park on Thursday, July 5.

In what has been a decade in the making, 29-year-old Darren Nicholls will make his NRL debut at halfback in place of Queensland representative Ben Hunt.

After two stints at the Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs each as well as time spent at the Wests Tigers, Penrith Panthers and in France, Nicholls will finally run out in the NRL.

Leeson Ah Mau returns to the team in the front row in place of New South Wales prop Paul Vaughan while Jacob Host maintains his spot in the back row following Tyson Frizell's re-selection for the Blues.

Jack de Belin and Tariq Sims are the other two NSW representatives to miss the trip to Melbourne. Luciano Leilua and Blake Lawrie start as a result, with Hame Sele and Reece Robson the new faces on the bench.

Patrick Herbert and Jordan Pereira's berths in the reserves could lead to NRL debuts while Jai Field and Mitchell Allgood will be hoping to add to their first grade game tally.

Kurt Mann will play his 50th game for the Dragons, coincidentally against his former side and the same stadium he made his NRL debut at in 2014.

NRL squad for Round 17 v Melbourne Storm:

1. Matt Dufty – sponsored by Illawarra Mercury/St George & Sutherland Shire Leader
2. Nene Macdonald – sponsored by Relativity in the Loop
3. Euan Aitken – sponsored by University of Wollongong
4. Tim Lafai – sponsored by Kingsgrove Sports Centre
5. Kurt Mann – sponsored by SMAI
6. Gareth Widdop (c) – sponsored by Dynamic Projects
7. Darren Nicholls – sponsored by Paul's Customs and Forwarding Solutions
8. James Graham – sponsored by EFEX                                                  
9. Cameron McInnes – sponsored by Floormania
10. Leeson Ah Mau – sponsored by My Muscle Chef
11. Jacob Host – sponsored by Val Morgan
12. Luciano Leilua – sponsored by Stonemasons & Landscapers (since 1970)
13. Blake Lawrie – sponsored by Wollongong Jetski

14. Jeremy Latimore – sponsored by Addbuild Additions
15. Jason Nightingale– sponsored by Wollongong Diagnostics
16. Hame Sele – sponsored by Westfund
17. Reece Robson – sponsored by Domus Lighting
18. Patrick Herbert
19. Jai Field
20. Jordan Pereira
21. Mitchell Allgood

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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