Dragons lock Trent Merrin is confident a niggling shoulder injury suffered in NSW's drought-breaking Origin series victory won't hamper him in his quest for a maiden Test jumper at season's end.
Merrin enjoyed a breakout season last year, establishing himself as one of the game's premier middle forwards and making a strong push for a spot in Tim Sheens's World Cup squad before an untimely knee injury ended his season a month early.
An Origin series victory with NSW and an endorsement as a future state captain from Blues legend Steve Roach have only strengthened his Test claims this season and the 2013 Dragons Player of the Year said he won't let a little bit of pain hamper him.
"I think playing rugby league you've always got little niggles. It just comes with the game," Merrin said.
"It's nothing to whinge about or talk about. It's something you've just got to bite the bullet on and push through. No-one wants to be injured but it's a tough game that we play and these are things you're faced with."
The injury may have limited his minutes on the field, but certainly not his output with the 24-year-old running for over 100 metres in all four games since returning, including a whopping 124m in just 45 minutes against the Raiders last week.
"It [shoulder] is getting better but as a collective group I think everyone's doing their job, so I don't need to push those hard, long minutes out to overdo myself," Merrin said.
"I'll just treat myself professionally, doing all the little things I need to do to get myself right every week.
"Fingers crossed, but at the moment everything's going sweet."
With the Titans boasting two of the game's best middle forwards in Test and Origin veterans Nate Myles and Greg Bird, Merrin described Sunday's match at Kogarah as the perfect test of his rep credentials.
"It's always great to come up against Birdy and those sort of players. That's where you're challenged and that's where you want to be at," Merrin said.
"It's always a great challenge to test yourself against the best and I'm definitely coming up against two great middle players.
"But with the Aussies and NSW, I think to try and push your claims for those teams you've just got to worry about yourself and your team. Once you do a job there you're always going put your hand up, so I'm just concentrating on the team and my individual effort."
Coach Paul McGregor named an unchanged line-up against the Titans, excluding captain Ben Creagh(hamstring injury) but added Bronson Harrison to a five-man bench.
In their final home game for the year, the Dragons will wear a special members appreciation jersey with the names of over 400 Red V members emblazoned across the front.