Merrin pushes for time on the field

Dragons prop Trent Merrin will channel the playing styles of Paul Gallen, Greg Bird and Michael Weyman next year with the outright ambition of becoming the NRL's newest 80-minute man.

In a move aimed at embracing the shift towards more mobile forwards - particularly at a representative level - Merrin believes more game time could be the answer to him bolstering his standing as one of league's most promising names.

"The game's always growing and you've got to be the fittest to stay on the field," Merrin said.

"It's something that I'm trying to build on and trying to push for - getting that 80 minutes.

"It's something that I'm going to try and work on this year and, fingers crossed, hopefully I can get there."

The 23-year-old's aspirations come amid pushes from some of the game's biggest powerbrokers for less interchanges and more minutes from players, led by former Blues coach Ricky Stuart.

The frequency of interchange re-surfaced as a hot topic last week following an outright ban of the shoulder charge.

Some sections of the code believe the catalyst behind an increase in dangerous shoulder charge collisions was the fact that the game allowed 10 interchanges per match, combined with bigger, stronger players than ever before.

Stuart argued earlier this year that slashing that number to six would create more opportunities for scoring and less wrestling in tackles and slowing down of play.

Merrin, who bolstered his standing as a Blues mainstay in 2012, believes the game is naturally evolving towards players who can spend longer periods on the field.

"It's just good to be on the field more, really," he said.

"You get a good look at things and you get to see how the game unfolds - and then you can change your game accordingly."

Gallen, the NSW captain and Sharks prop, has almost single-handedly altered perception on what constitutes the ideal forward prototype, thanks in part to him making full 80-minute appearances.

The 2012 Dally M Lock of the Year continually averages the highest metres and hit-ups of any of the NRL's forwards and, according to Merrin, has helped pioneer a new approach.

"Gal's a prime example," Merrin said.

"I look up to Gal, he's a top player, someone that I'd like to follow - as well as Michael Weyman and Greg Bird. They're senior players and they do a great job of it. They're the boys that you try and follow.

"I was lucky enough to have the likes of Weyman, Gal and Bird around me and helping me out by making Origin so young."

 Trent Merrin is desperate to improve his game-time. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Trent Merrin is desperate to improve his game-time. Picture: GREG TOTMAN


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