Dragons recruit Sam Williams believes the hotly contested race for the No 7 jersey will bring out the best in him and his new club when the NRL season begins.
The former Raider is locked in a battle with Kyle Stanley, Josh Drinkwater and veteran Michael Witt for the chance to partner marquee signing Gareth Widdop in the halves and is desperate for a first shot at the play-making role.
"I think it's been one of the best things about pre-season, the group of players we have here are all vying really hard for positions and there's very few spots that are guaranteed," Williams said.
"We all know that a lot of great players left at the end of last season and this season ... it's a bit of a new era.
"I think that's one of the most exciting things about this year and why I'd love to be playing round one."
Few players at any club are under more scrutiny than the man who wears seven but it's pressure that Williams craves.
"No doubt whoever gets the nod at seven is going to be under a lot of pressure but that's the reason we play football to try and thrive in that pressure," he said.
"It's going to happen anywhere but we all know that St George is a big club and we all want that seven jersey as much as each other.
"There's going to be pressure but I think whoever gets it - hopefully me - can handle it well."
With Steve Price coy about his options, Williams believes the competition for spots will hold the club in good stead should an injury crisis similar to the 2013 season strike.
‘‘We’re still in that pre-season phase. I guess over the next few weeks we’ll start seeing a few combinations and players in certain positions,’’ he said.
‘‘In the end, I think it’s [competition] going to help through the year having that depth – if someone goes down the next blokes can come straight in.’’
Williams is well aware that his trial form could determine whether or not he takes the field in round one and is hopeful of a strong show at the Auckland Nines.
‘‘We haven’t done a lot on it but it’s an exciting concept and a lot of players are going to thrive with all that open space.
‘‘As a half you’re normally thinking a lot about things but the nines is massively instinctive sort of game,’’ he said.
‘‘You can showcase some of those skills that in less space you don’t get a chance to show off as much.’’