St George Illawarra’s quest to return to the NRL finals next year will start in Cairns, after announcing a trial game against North Queensland on February 16.
Coach Steve Price expected to take an extended squad for the clash, as he experiments with player combinations for the 2013 season.
‘‘We know that we have many Dragons members and supporters in Queensland and particularly North Queensland, so we are very pleased that we have been able to secure this opportunity with the Cowboys thanks to the Cairns District Rugby League,” said Dragons chief executive Peter Doust.
“It will be the first chance for the squad to play a match after a long pre-season so they will be very keen to get out and play and the Cowboys and the summer conditions in Cairns will certainly be a good challenge.’’
The Dragons then return to Sydney to play the annual Charity Shield game against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on February 22, before the NRL season kicks off.
Meanwhile, St George Illawarra yesterday announced the signing of prop Shannon Wakeman and hooker Damien Cook for next season.
The pair will likely form an integral part of Paul McGregor’s NSW Cup campaign with the Illawarra Cutters.
The Dragons have also secured under 20s stars Blake Phillips, Jordan Hay and Adam Quinlan on one-year contract extensions.