As preseason critics lined up to dismiss the 2014 Dragons as too light up front, it is unlikely they considered the emergence of young gun Tyson Frizell as a starting prop.
He has been used predominantly as an edge back-rower since joining the club from Cronulla in 2012. Yet Frizell has proved a surprise packet in the front row after being thrown into the engine room by coach Steve Price for the Dragons’s round-one clash with the Tigers.
The move paid quick dividends as the rampaging Frizell scored two tries in possibly the best performance of his 37-game NRL career.
He held onto the No 8 jersey for ensuing clashes with a monster Warriors pack in round two and a typically gritty Sharks side last week.
With Price apparently shelving a preseason plan to start skipper Ben Creagh in the front row, the position up front appears up for grabs.
Frizell said he hoped to hold down the spot for the 2014 season at least.
‘‘Pricey said I’d be playing a bit of middle this year – I just wasn’t too sure whereabouts.
‘‘I’ve ended up in the front row and I’m really enjoying the role at the moment and loving starting upfront.
‘‘It’s still a learning curve for me.
‘‘So hopefully I can be consistent and hopefully keep my spot there for the rest of the season.’’
After blowing the Tigers and Warriors off the paddock with their new-found attacking arsenal, the Dragons were dragged into the trenches by the Sharks last week and forced to grind out an ugly 14-12 win.
Frizell said the torrid encounter was what his side needed as they prepared to face an in-form Broncos outfit with a formidable record against them.
‘‘It was good coming into this week with a real grinding-out sort of game,’’ Frizell said.
‘‘Local derbies are always like that and we knew from the start it was going to be a tough match.
‘‘We can take a lot out of what happened on the weekend and there’s a lot of things we can improve on.’’
Frizell said the match-up against a forward pack led by Queensland origin stars Corey Parker, Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillett would be the biggest test the Dragons pack had to face this season.
‘‘We’ve just got to muscle up with them and take them head on,’’ he said.