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Aitken's personal challenge against close mate

Euan Aitken is no stranger to knuckling down in defence averaging over 15 tackles a game last year despite playing on the flanks.

But tonight his defensive capabilities will be put to the test marking up against NSW Blues livewire and junior teammate, Jack Bird. Aitken and Bird came through the Dragons junior ranks together and have played under the same jersey on numerous occasions becoming close friends in the process.

And Aitken says he can't wait to take the field on Thursday night with his former teammate standing opposite him.

“I love coming up against the best players it always makes me play better,” Aitken said.

“I’m looking forward to the battle with birdy (Jack Bird).

“Having that year off gave him a lot of rest and gave him a chance to get his injuries right.

“It seems like he’s doing fine and it seems like a good matchup for me and I can’t wait."

Dragons coach Paul McGregor, also knows bird personally having coached the versatile player through the juniors.

And McGregor knows the pair will be fired up wanting to get bragging rights over each other.

“Jack is a very good footballer,” McGregor said.

“He can play multiple positions and will be playing left centre on Thursday.

“Him and Euan played right through the juniors together so they’ll make it personal that’s for sure.”

While Aitken fights out a battle with his close mate, the battle for the two competition points will take centre stage as the Dragons hope to open their 2019 campaign. 

And the key for the Dragons will be starting strong and putting the Broncos halves under pressure according to Aitken.

“If we get the jump on them we can lead from the front really well,” Aitken said.

“When they are put under pressure, especially their halves, they can sometimes crack.

“What is important to us is to start well and weather the storm early from their young and exciting forwards.”