For 80 minutes at least, St George Illawarra’s stars can tonight forget about scandal, signatures and the failed pursuit of a sought-after supercoach.
Instead, it’s all about making the most of the preseason test against North Queensland in a bid to earn selection for NRL round one.
The summer has been consumed by allegations of doping and match-fixing embedded in sport, with NRL at the coalface, though we are yet to see the extent of the evidence of the Australian Crime Commission report.
Then there’s the speculation of the latest destination for in-demand Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston.
Of course, the Dragons concerns have rested on a supercoach who, well, ended up going nowhere. Not even to a club busily shuffling multi-million deals across to the table with coastal views to match.
Forget the fact the setting for tonight’s venue is a rather low-key Barlow Park in steamy Cairns.
The footy’s back – and that’s all that matters to Dragons and Cowboys followers for the time being.
Even if there are those lingering doubts about who the Dragons will court next, if anyone, in the wake of the failed Craig Bellamy pursuit?
Not that it matters to incumbent coach Steve Price, who humbly deflected questions about his future, scrutinised like no other over the previous month.
‘‘There’s been speculation about my role for a while now but it’s no issue to me,’’ Price deadpanned.
‘‘I will be off-contract so the club has every right to approach whomever.’’
Whether he’s the man to steer the Dragons’ ship through these ever-changing waters or not, Price would dearly love to have someone of Thurston’s ability calling the shots.
Briefly linked with St George Illawarra among a host of other clubs, courting Thurston again is now the Cowboys’ main game in the wake of Matt Scott’s renewed commitment.
‘‘The best props in the game and a great halfback in Jonathan,’’ was how Price summed up North Queensland, who may rest Thurston after a minor knock in last week’s All Stars clash. ‘‘They’re coming off a great season last year but it’s more about getting our footy right, both offence and defence, and focusing our energy more on what we can control.’’