Trent Merrin’s representative rise has fuelled Dragons hooker Mitch Rein’s desire to stake a representative claim ahead of this weekend’s Emerging Blues camp in Sydney.
Rein will be one of 22 players to bunker down in a development camp for NSW’s highly touted prospects this weekend, and has consulted his St George Illawarra teammate on the benefits.
‘‘I had a bit of a word to Trent and he said it was a really good camp and they learnt a lot,’’ the 22-year-old rake said.
‘‘As you can see now, Trent’s played a couple of games. He must have got a lot out of the camp and hopefully I’ll be able to learn a few things and improve my game.’’
Merrin has since made four State Of Origin appearances for the Blues, despite his controversial axing for the last two series-deciding matches.
Rein’s path to rugby league’s fiercest cauldron may be blocked, with incumbent Robbie Farah having seemingly cemented his spot as the Blues No9. But Rein is not completely out of the picture.
He proved he was at the forefront of the selectors’ thoughts after coming into contention for a Country Origin spot last year.
The Kiama junior was to be called into the squad to cover for Danny Buderus in the annual trial, but had to withdraw with a pectoral muscle strain.
He excelled in an otherwise deflating end to the Dragons’ season and shrugged off concerns that opposition defences would clamp down on his dummy-half running as he becomes a key part of the Red V’s attack.
‘‘That’s just more motivation for me to work harder and try to bring the things I’ve been working on this whole pre-season and implement them into the game,’’ he said.
‘‘If I’m playing my best footy, I’m playing with confidence and everything will be fine.’’
The workaholic Rein, who topped the Dragons’ tackle count last year with 769, is the first-choice hooking option for coach Steve Price.
Former Australian Schoolboy Cameron King is jockeying for inclusion in the top 17, and Damien Cook is training full-time with the squad after a standout year with the Illawarra Cutters.
‘‘You come in there as a young guy and you’ve got to tell a lot of older and more experienced players what to do,’’ Rein said.
‘‘That’s pretty hard to handle and do when you first come in.
‘‘I’m sure that Damien will get a lot out of this pre-season and he’ll improve his game.
‘‘Everyone’s really been pushing each other for spots, and I’m sure when it comes to trial time everyone will keep working hard. There’s that many spots up for grabs.’’
St George Illawarra’s campaign begins in a pre-season trial against the Cowboys in Cairns on February16.