St George Illawarra will rest World Cup stars Brett Morris and Jason Nightingale in their first hitout of the 2014 season.
The Red V will take on a combined Illawarra Cutters, their NSW Cup feeder side, and bush footy outfit Mudgee Dragons at Kogarah on February 7 in a low-key start to the season.
Plans were thought to be advanced for the Dragons to take on NSW Cup battlers Wyong on the Central Coast, but that fell through.
Dragons coach Steve Price then organised a hitout against Mudgee, who hail from the Central West’s Group 10 competition.
The Cutters and Mudgee will alternate in 20-minute stints against a near full strength Dragons, who have opted to give their international wingers a break in preparation for the Auckland Nines and Charity Shield.
‘‘We’ll get a good solid hitout against two combined teams,’’ Price said.
‘‘Our whole top squad will be playing that day, excluding Brett Morris and Jason Nightingale... and I’m pretty sure Ben Creagh won’t be playing that day also. Other than that all the other players will be playing.’’
The evening will also feature the Dragons National Youth Competition side taking on the Roosters before the main game kicks off at 7pm.
‘‘It has been a long tough pre-season and the players are certainly excited to know that there are some games on the horizon,’’ Price said.
‘‘You’re always looking to get out there and nail what you’ve done in the pre-season and carry that into the game. From a defensive point of view we’ve done a lot of work with our contact and wrestle. And offensively [attack coach] Paul McGregor has been doing an outstanding job.’’
Tickets are on pre-sale for Red V members for the Charity Shield clash against South Sydney at WIN Stadium on February 22. They can be purchased exclusively until Monday at 5pm. Tickets to the general public will go on sale on Tuesday.
Friday 7 February, WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah
National Youth Competition v Roosters (5pm)
Dragons v Mudgee Dragons/Illawarra Cutters (7pm)
Tickets: $5 adults, kids under 14 free