Dragons captain Cameron McInnes is determined to ensure teammates show the same faith in the rookies called in to cover for the club’s injured stars that Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess had in him at South Sydney.
McInnes, who has taken over the captaincy in the absence of injured playmaker Gareth Widdop, debuted for the Rabbitohs in 2014 and he said the likes of Inglis, Burgess and Issac Luke had welcomed him into the team.
With Widdop (shoulder) and forward recruit Korbin Sims (broken arm) injured and NSW Origin lock Jack de Belin stood down under the NRL’s "no-fault stand down" policy, the Dragons' depth is being severely tested.
Test forward Tyson Frizell missed two matches with a testicular injury, while second-rower Jacob Host is in doubt for Sunday’s match against Canterbury due to an ankle injury.
If Host is ruled out, prop Josh Kerr is expected to be called onto the bench for his second NRL match after an 18-minute debut against Souths in Round 2.
"We are a very positive playing group," McInnes said after helping to launch the club’s "Be The Best You Can Be" stage 3 and 4 curriculum-based primary school resource on Wednesday.
"We have lost a couple of key players but we are a fighting team and there are a couple of guys who have got opportunities for us.
"Whoever steps in will do a job for us because that is the culture we have created here. We work hard for each other and we all have faith in anyone who comes into our squad.
"With Blake Lawrie, everyone backed him to do the job in the starting position and he is doing a great job at No.13. With Josh Kerr, everyone had his back and we were rapt for him."
McInnes said his role as captain was to make sure that only did the rookies feel the other players had confidence in them to do the job but also believed they belonged at NRL level.
"That’s a big thing and when I was a young guy coming through at Souths I was lucky to have guys like Sam Burgess, Greg Inglis and Issac Luke, as well, who made me feel like I was ready for it," McInnes said.
"They all made me feel that I was worthy and that I wasn’t just there because of an injury, I was there because I was the man to do the job.
"As a young guy, when you feel that from guys who have done it already it just gives you that lift because you have got guys who have got that experience and know what they are talking about showing belief in you."
While McInnes is captain, he shares the leadership duties with James Graham and Frizell, who returned in last weekend’s 19-18 defeat of Newcastle.
It was St George Illawarra’s second golden-point win in as many weeks and five-eighth Corey Norman kicked the extra-time field goal on both occasions.
"You can’t replace Gareth Widdop but having Corey in the side makes a huge difference. He is just so calm and relaxed on the field," McInnes said. "Matt Dufty got an opportunity and I thought he played really, really well.
"We will get Gareth back at some stage and when we do we want to be in the best position we can."
McInnes is also hoping to be an inspiration for primary school students after speaking to a class at Hayes Park Public School about goal setting as part of St George Illawarra’s “The Best You Can Be” program.
Other themes addressed by club mates Euan Aitken, Kezie Apps, Tim Lafai, Zac Lomax, and Jess Sergis included body image, resilience, respect, goal setting, cyber safety, hydration and nutrition, sleep, friendship and being active.