Jason Nightingale: Dragons still have target to meet

Jason Nightingale expects the Dragons and Knights to come out fighting. Picture: JANE DYSON

Jason Nightingale expects the Dragons and Knights to come out fighting. Picture: JANE DYSON

RUGBY LEAGUE

The words "dead rubber" aren't being thrown around the St George Illawarra camp this week as the club prepares for its last game of the 2014 campaign.

The Dragons had spent the past two months playing for their season but missed the NRL finals following last Friday's 30-22 loss to Brisbane.

They meet a Newcastle outfit also lining up for the last time this year at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.

While the round 26 result means little on paper, Dragons veteran Jason Nightingale denies the Dragons have nothing to play for.

He says the Red V will throw everything it has at Newcastle and expects the Knights to do the same.

"There's plenty of motivation," Nightingale said at WIN Stadium on Tuesday.

"We set a goal earlier in the year to win eight out of 14 and we hoped that would be enough to get us into the finals.

"We're sitting on seven [wins] at the moment, and unfortunately that eight won't get us in the finals, but if we stick with that goal at least we'll achieve something, tick another box and build towards next year.

"I'm sure Newcastle will want to send Wayne (Bennett) off from there with a win."

Nightingale is also aware a number of players from both camps at Hunter Stadium will be under the watchful eyes of representative selectors ahead of the Four Nations tournament later this year.

Nightingale himself is considered a lock to hold his spot on the wing in New Zealand's national team.

While he would relish a phone call from Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney, Nightingale doesn't believe Sunday's performance will swing selectors either way.

"I don't think if I come out and play outstanding it will change things," he said. They've seen me play a lot. I think it will be everyone continuing in the vein they have and trying to match what they've done all year.

"But if you can go out as best you can then that gives you the best opportunity."

Focusing more short term, Nightingale wants to finish the current NRL season with a win over Newcastle to continue some impressive form under new coach Paul McGregor.

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