After believing he wasn't part of Steve Price's plans for next week's NRL season opener, livewire utility Adam Quinlan is ready to fill the void left by the injured Josh Dugan, after being endorsed by the under pressure coach.
Scans on Monday confirmed that Dugan will miss the first month of the season after suffering lateral ligament damage to his left knee trying to stop a runaway George Burgess in Saturday's Charity Shield.
His replacement, Quinlan, impressed in his 20-minute cameo, scoring a try and bringing energy to the backline.
It was a performance that prompted Price to say post-match that he would not hesitate to select the 21-year-old in the top grade.
Other contenders include centre Gerard Beale, who originally came to the club to fill the fullback position, and new recruit Dylan Farrell.
But Quinlan appears to have the inside running, given Price's post-match endorsement.
Quinlan admits he thought his real audition for round one came with the 60 minutes he played for the Illawarra Cutters in the curtain-raiser on Saturday.
"I didn't think I was going to be there [for round one] at all," Quinlan said.
"There were a lot of people in front of me and I sort of knew that during the pre-season.
"I tried not to think about it too much, I just trained hard and tried to play well in the trials.
"Obviously it's very disappointing for Josh and the team with his injury but I'll be looking to train really hard over the next few weeks and hopefully if I do get the opportunity I can take it with both hands," he said.
Price has shown faith in the versatile Quinlan in the past, giving him his top grade debut at five-eighth last year as injuries derailed the club's season, but Quinlan said he felt most comfortable at the back.
"It's probably my preferred position, fullback, but I'd be happy to play anywhere in the 17 for the top squad," he said.
"It's going to be tough to get a spot but hopefully I'll get a crack somewhere.
"If I do get the opportunity for the first few weeks the experience could really help me out over the next couple of years."
The Dragons were soundly beaten in their final pre-season hit-out against the Rabbitohs but Quinlan said the side was confident of a quick turnaround around ahead of the round one clash with the Wests Tigers.
"We went over the video and had a good chat about the things we need to work on and we'll definitely be working on them over the next two weeks to get it right," he said.
"Everyone's confident in each other's ability and we're pretty confident that we can turn it around for round one and build some momentum into the season."