Merritt cut, but Quinlan continues to rise

South Sydney livewire Nathan Merritt is expected to line up against the Illawarra Cutters today after being dropped for last night's Charity Shield.

It is understood Merritt slept in and missed training on Thursday, resulting in the disciplinary action decided upon by his teammates.

Merritt is now poised to instead play for North Sydney in today's NSW Cup trial against Paul McGregor's outfit.

However, he's expected to be cleared to return to first grade for the Rabbitohs' blockbuster season-opening encounter with Sydney Roosters on Thursday, March 7.

While the Charity Shield was a missed opportunity for Merritt, it was a chance for young Dragons fullback Adam Quinlan to continue his meteoric rise.

Consigned to Group 7 football with Jamberoo for a season, the Culburra junior was only afforded a chance in St George Illawarra's under-20s side through injuries last season.

Thirteen tries in 17 games later, and as one of the catalysts for the Dragons' stunning surge to the preliminary final, now Quinlan is potentially a twisted ankle or strained muscle away from an NRL debut.

"I wasn't really expecting to get a go in the 20s last year, then I got fortunate again with a couple of injuries there," the 20-year-old said. "Then I've got the opportunity this year to train with the first-grade side.

"Hopefully I can put in a good year for the Illawarra Cutters and if a few injuries happen again maybe get a step up. I think there's a few guys in front of me, but if the opportunity did arise I would certainly back myself."

Which is certainly what coach Steve Price has done also.

After a couple of try-assists against the Cowboys last weekend when deputising for the injured Bronx Goodwin, Quinlan was included in Price's extended squad for last night's Charity Shield.

Adept at a string of positions in the backline, Quinlan said he was happy to bide his time behind first-choice No 1 Gerard Beale and Evander Cummins, another graduate of the club's under-20s side, for his preferred fullback role.

"I've only started playing that in the last two or three years, but have really enjoyed it," he said. "I think that's my best position.

"There's great players in every position in the squad also. It makes it really tough to break in, but fingers crossed."

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