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In a series analysing who will line up in each position for all 16 teams in the opening round of the Telstra Premiership in 2020, looks at the St George Illawarra Dragons. says: In a big blow, captain Cameron McInnes will miss the opening rounds of the season after suffering a high-grade MCL injury at the NRL Nines. The hooker's exact recovery time-frame is yet to be confirmed.

It opens the door for veteran recruit Issac Luke to step into the No.9 jumper. Livewire utility back Tristan Sailor could then come on to the bench, with coach Paul McGregor having the option to inject him into the halves and move Ben Hunt to hooker if Luke needs a break.

Zac Lomax looks assured of grabbing the fullback role, especially since fellow No.1 competitor Matt Dufty will be racing the clock for round one having fractured his cheekbone at the Nines.

Towering teenager Jason Saab and Jordan Pereira have emerged as favourites for the wings, with Brayden Wiliame and Mikaele Ravalawa to keep the pressure on.

Depending on what happens with lock Jack de Belin's trial over sexual assault allegations, the returning Trent Merrin is likely to slot into his old No.13 jersey for the first time in five years.

Korbin Sims underwent arm surgery after an injury at the Nines and won't take his place on the interchange.

Jamie Soward says: Tristan Sailor should be the fullback; he showed enough last year and at the Nines to be given first crack so Jason Saab and Jordan Pereira are the wings for me with Euan Aitken and Zac Lomax in the centres with Lafai out. I'd have Merrin starting at prop, Jackson Ford in the second row, Tyson Frizell at lock and James Graham playing that very important bench prop role.

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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