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Coach raring for footy's return

You could mistake St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor as a current player given his keenness for rugby league's return in 2019 this weekend.

The Dragons will face the Newcastle Knights at WIN Stadium, Wollongong, and while as disruptive a change of venue at the eleventh hour may have been to both squads, McGregor is eager to see how his squad stacks up.

It will be the first time Dragons' members and fans will get to see recruits Corey Norman, Lachlan Timm, Mikaele Ravalawa and Lachlan Maranta play in the Red V.

Fellow new face Korbin Sims has been given the green light to play in the trials also, despite being suspended until Round 3 of the regular season.

For others, like Mitch Allgood, Jackson Ford, Josh Kerr and Steven Marsters it's their opportunity to push for their so far elusive Dragons or NRL debut.

"It has been a productive pre-season and everyone involved – from the players, performance staff and coaches – are really excited that the season has finally arrived," McGregor said.

"2019 is the beginning of something better for the Dragons, and we are approaching it in great shape with no players currently injured. Those missing are in name of player workload management, otherwise the squad of 28 will all get the opportunity to play."

The outcomes McGregor seeks are all granted considering the nature of the Dragons initial hit-out.

"This is our first occasion to build towards Round 1 against the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville," McGregor said.

"It's an opportunity to view our technical and tactical tweaks as well as further the development of our younger players and the new faces to the club.

"We will be closely watching how individuals and the team overall execute under fatigue and pressure from the opposition. It will also allow the players the opportunity to show they're right for the role."

McGregor also acknowledged the interest and opinions surrounding the Jack de Belin legal proceedings.

"I recognise the significance and importance surrounding the current proceedings regarding Jack de Belin and the allegations against him. There is a judicial process underway to establish a resolution to this allegation and dispute," McGregor said.

"Jack's welfare is our main concern and it is important that integrity and wellbeing are considered.

"If history and the past decade has taught us anything in rugby league, it is to refrain from making assumptions prior to legal proceedings being concluded.

"My focus needs to be on all 35 players in our squad and starting the season well for everyone associated with the Dragons and as such, I'm not interested in adding anything further to the commentary on this matter."

Dragons NRL pre-season trial team to play Newcastle Knights (alphabetically):

Euan Aitken, Mitchell Allgood, Matt Dufty, Jai Field, Jackson Ford, Jacob Host, Ben Hunt, Josh Kerr, Tim Lafai, Jeremy Latimore, Blake Lawrie, Luciano Leilua, Zac Lomax, Joe Lovodua, Lachlan Maranta, Steven Marsters, Cameron McInnes, Darren Nicholls, Corey Norman, Jordan Pereira, Mikaele Ravalawa, Reece Robson, Tristan Sailor, Korbin Sims, Tariq Sims, Lachlan Timm, Paul Vaughan, Gareth Widdop

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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