Price warns Dragons of Burgess 'intimidation factor'

RUGBY LEAGUE 

St George Illawarra coach Steve Price is bracing for a backlash from code-hopping Rabbitoh Sam Burgess, whose year-long rugby league farewell tour begins in the unlikely surrounds of WIN Stadium.

Publicly mute since earlier this week announcing he will switch to rugby union at the end of this year's NRL season, Burgess will make his first appearance of 2014 in the Charity Shield on Saturday night.

And he's set to spearhead a monster Rabbitohs pack, having been paired with younger brother George in the front row, directly opposing the Dragons' manufactured props Ben Creagh and Jack de Belin.

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The Burgess brothers tip the scales at a combined 236 kilograms - a whopping 26kg heavier than Dragons skipper Creagh and de Belin, who both spent considerable time in the back row last year.

Price warned his Dragons would have to counter the "intimidation factor" of Burgess and the Bunnies upfront, as Souths eye their third Charity Shield success in the last four years.

"The big Pom will be champing at the bit," Price said. "He hasn't played through the trials and I'm sure he's going to try to bring that intimidation factor.

"He's one helluva player and they have got a big forward pack. It's going to be a great challenge for us to see where we are at.

"The boys can't wait to get out there and it's a really high intensity trial and they always have been. It's a grudge match on this calendar and we can't wait to get out there and put a really good performance in."

Creagh and fellow bookend Dan Hunt will be rolled out of rehab for the first time this preseason after skipping the Dragons' low-key trial against a combined Illawarra Cutters/Mudgee Dragons two weeks ago.

They were also left out of the Red V's travelling squad for the Auckland Nines.

Price, who will parachute "four or five" of the Cutters' better performers from their NSW Cup trial to sit on an extended Dragons bench, said Creagh and Hunt would play a predetermined amount of minutes.

"There will be a number of those forwards which will have a certain amount of game time they'll be required to play and then other guys will be [put] out there to get through it," he said.

"It's not about winning and losing [tonight] ... it's about putting a consistent performance in and gearing towards round one. That's our main focus and hopefully we can do that.

"It will be a good indication of where we are at with all our systems and structures we've implemented throughout the preseason against a very good football team."

Gerard Beale will be the notable omission for the Dragons after aggravating a jaw injury while playing a NSW Cup trial last weekend. Charly Runciman will take his place in the centres.

"He [Runciman] has come through our junior system with the 20s and I thought he was fantastic at the Nines last week in the third game," Price said.

Devout Rabbitohs fan Ed O'Neill, star of Modern Family, is tipped to add some star power to the Charity Shield with a flying visit to Wollongong to watch his beloved Bunnies.

The actor is currently filming an Australian special of the hit TV show.

The Dragons will auction their player-worn Charity Shield jerseys online at the end of this evening's game.

It will be the first time the annual clash has been played outside of Sydney since its inception in 1982.

Auction proceeds will go directly to St George and Wollongong public hospitals, with bidding closing at 9pm on Thursday.

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