Rabbitohs pack a big test for Dragons up front

MAN IN THE MIDLE: Cameron McInnes is looking forward to taking on his former club Souths in Sunday's Charity Shield. Picture: Adam McLean

MAN IN THE MIDLE: Cameron McInnes is looking forward to taking on his former club Souths in Sunday's Charity Shield. Picture: Adam McLean

FORMER Rabbitohs hooker Cameron McInnes knows how it feels to play behind a dominant forward pack.

He debuted for South Sydney in a year where Sam Burgess, Ben Te’o and Tom and Luke Burgess powered the Rabbitohs charge to the 2014 premiership.

Having shifted south to the Dragons in 2017, the 23-year-old believes the Dragons pack that includes the like of Tyson Frizell, Paul Vaughan, Russell Packer, Tariq Sims and Jack de Belin can lay similar platform in the middle.

“In terms of just playing with a direct line and trying to get over the opposite pack it is definitely similar [to Souths],” McInnes said. 

“There’s some variations there in our structures and that sort of but the ultimate goal is the same.

“That’s the way I love to play as well, nice and direct, so that works perfectly for me.”

Only wooden-spooners Newcastle scored less points than the Dragons last season meaning much of the preseason attention has focused on who will partner Gareth Widdop in the halves.

That battle remains on in earnest but coach Paul McGregor is confident it’s his big men who can cure the club’s attacking woes by playing a “power game” up front. It’s a simple formula according to McInnes.

“It’s just playing smart really,” he said.

“We’ve got a big mobile forward pack and we know there’s not point shifting the ball too much when we can jut go through people.

“I think every team has that power goal in mind I just think we have the team that’s able to implement it a lot better than most.

“It just gives you more time with the ball. For me, my job is to just dish the ball when it’s there and take the team forward when it needs to but, for the halves, it gives them a lot more time to play.

“If you can get the other team on the back foot that’s how you score your tries. There’s very few tries scored of slow play-the-balls so if you can get your big men running hard and getting up quickly that’s half the battle right there.”

The new Dragons pack will face their first major test when they take on the Rabbitohs in Sunday’s Charity Shield clash.

It will be McInnes’ first meeting with his former club and the first time playing alongside Gareth Widdop and Josh Dugan in a new-look spine.

McInnes admitted playing against former teammates brings an added incentive but said his focus remains on building all-important combinations ahead of round one.

“I was there for a few years and I’m sure they know what I can do,” McInnes said.

“I obviously want to have a good game but I always want to have a good game.

“I’m more looking forward to playing with my new teammates and guys like Friz and Gaz will be out there so I get to play with them for the first time.

“I played about half an hour last week [against the Tigers] so hopefully this week I can get some more time out there and get some form up and get some combinations going.”

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