Jacob Liddle wants to continue starting matches and is aiming to become an 80-minute hooker after sparking St George Illawarra to their biggest win in two seasons.
With Liddle in the run-on side for the first time, the Dragons downed a depleted Dolphins outfit 38-12 – the most points they have scored and their biggest winning margin since beating the Broncos 52-24 in 2021.
Dragons coach Anthony Griffin said he had reversed the roles of Liddle and utility Moses Mbye, who had started at dummy half in the first three games, because the former Wests Tigers hooker was playing better.
Liddle made an immediate impact, scoring St George Illawarra’s opening try in the 18th minute and laying on their second for prop Blake Lawrie eight minutes later.
"It was one of my goals to get that starting spot so I was obviously aiming that," Liddle said.
Liddle dives over
"The first couple of games I came off the bench and did a job for the team there. It's a little bit of a different role.
"I love starting, obviously I want to try and stay there, but wherever the coach puts me, I'll just keep on working hard and looking to play my best footy.
"I didn't really have any set expectations; it’s a fresh start so I was looking just to play good footy and obviously work my way there eventually.”
Liddle was St George Illawarra’s major off-season signing after gaining a release from Wests Tigers but is only on a one-year deal after a horror run with injuries in recent seasons.
Lawrie is in rich try-scoring form
With Mbye regarded more as a utility, Liddle is the Dragons’ only specialist dummy half and he wants to eventually play longer than his 49-minute stint at WIN Stadium on Saturday night.
“I’ll hopefully work my way to that,” Liddle said. “It’s obviously early in the season and the legs are not as used to playing at this speed as they probably could be.
“You don’t find any match fitness until you play a few games so I’m starting to get a bit more time on the field, which is good for the legs.”
Talatau Amone partnered Ben Hunt in the halves in the seven-tries-to-two win against the Dolphins, and Griffin may have a choice between Jayden Sullivan or Mbye for the bench utility role.
“Liddsy’s a real quality kid and he’s been around for a while,” Griffin said.
“He’s had his injury problems so we’ve just got to get him through and keep him playing, and he might be able to get more minutes.
“Moses wants to play hooker, so we’re concentrating on that with him at the moment but the beauty of having him in the 17 is he can play fullback, centre or in the halves, if you need.”
Dragons forward Jack de Belin made a successful return against the Dolphins following a pre-season calf injury and has been cleared for next weekend's trip to the Gold Coast after being charged for dangerous contact.
Fiji winger Mikaele Ravalawa was also booked for a high tackle on former team-mate Euan Aitken, but the Dragons pair have escaped suspension and face fines if they plead guilty or unsuccessfully challenge the grade one charges.
Slick hands put Ravalawa over again
Samoa World Cup second-rower Jaydn Su'A limped from the field in the first half and Griffin said he didn't feel comfortable to go back on but it was unclear after the match whether he would be available for the Titans match.