Dragons' roster in focus for Four Nations

A knee injury robbed Trent Merrin of his chance to press for World Cup selection last year. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

A knee injury robbed Trent Merrin of his chance to press for World Cup selection last year. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

RUGBY LEAGUE - DRAGONS

They won't see finals action but the Dragons season could extend well beyond September, with as many as 10 players in contention for Four Nations selection, including their entire star-studded backline.

After claiming State of Origin success, Trent Merrin and Josh Dugan are firmly on the radar for Australia.

Merrin was robbed of a chance to press claims for last year's World Cup by a late season knee injury but with Nate Myles and Paul Gallen unavailable the he has shot even into close contention.

"It's always a goal as a kid, you always dream of playing in the green and gold," Merrin said.

"It's something I've tried to pursue once I finished my apprenticeship as a rookie coming through.

"It's always the highest goal to play in that jersey and it would be a dream come true but it [selection] could be really close or it could be really far away.

"I'll never know so I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing."

Test regulars Brett Morris and Jason Nightingale are near certainties for the tournament, after playing for their respective countries at last year's World Cup, while fullback Gerard Beale is also a New Zealand incumbent having played in this year's mid-season Test as a centre.

Five-eighth Gareth Widdop is another certainty, barring injury, to feature in England coach Steve McNamara's squad, while halves partner and former Kiwi captain Benji Marshall has also stated a desire to earn a recall to the Test arena.

English prop Mike Cooper has earned endorsements for a Test call-up from Widdop and coach Paul McGregor in his debut NRL season, while Leeson Ah Mau and Peter Mata'utia could feature for Samoa.

Mata'utia could even line up alongside brothers Chanel and Sione, who he will face off against on Sunday.

Morris, a veteran of 18 Tests, was unequivocal when asked if Merrin and Dugan were ready to make their Test debuts.

"I definitely think they are," Morris said.

"Mez was probably a bit unlucky last year when he got that injury late in the year when he was knocking on the door there. With a few blokes out now through injuries and whatnot there's a few doors open and we've all seen how well Duges has adapted to playing the centres.

"He's one of those guys who when he gets a chance at rep footy he takes it with both hands. They've done the best they can to put their hand up and it'll be interesting to see if they get picked at the end of the year."

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