McInnes running hot in Blues hooking race

MAKING A RUN: Cam McInnes provided a timely reminder of his ball-running ability with a solo try against Cronulla. Picture: Georgia Matts
MAKING A RUN: Cam McInnes provided a timely reminder of his ball-running ability with a solo try against Cronulla. Picture: Georgia Matts

THERE are some who still question the potency of Dragons hooker Cam McInnes’ running game, but Cronulla forward Wade Graham doesn’t need any more convincing – Matt Moylan either.

McInnes showed both a clean pair of heels on a 40-metre dash to the try-line in the Dragons 20-point win over the Sharks on Friday night, showing speed few knew he possessed.

With NSW coach Brad Fittler watching on from the sideline, it was a timely reminder of the 24-year-old’s ball-running ability as the race for the Blues No. 9 jumper shifts into overdrive. 

“I don’t get into the clear space too often but it was good to reward the boys for running hard through that middle,” McInnes said.

“I got sin-binned before that for a silly little play so I just wanted to get back out there and contribute. We had a focus on running hard and really fighting to to play the ball and I thought our backs and our middles did that. 

“As result you get some quick ones and some opportunities to run. The better the forwards are playing and running the footy, the better I’ll go so the credit’s really got to go to them.

“If you get no markers there or a quick play-the-ball there’s a good opportunity to run. If there’s two markers there and it’s slow I’ve got to give the ball out so I’m only as good as they are.”

While there’s no doubting McInnes’ insatiable appetite for hard work in the middle, the four-pointer showed he can be just as dangerous with ball in hand as other Blues hopefuls Damien Cook and Api Koroisau.

With the Dragons spine running red-hot in six straight wins to start the season, McInnes said he’s happy for his running game to remain underrated, at least by those outside the club.

“It’s not underrated by me. If a run’s there I’m going take it but I’m not going to play for myself.” McInnes said.

“A lot of the time people get caught up with who’s scoring tries and who’s making line breaks, but my focus is on playing my role for the team.

“I can run all day if I want to because I’m the hooker but it’s about taking my opportunities when they’re there and knowing when it’s time to feed one of the boys in or get it to the halves because they like a quick play-the-ball as well.

“It’s up to me to make the right decision so it’s just about finding that balance. As long as my coach and teammates are happy, I’m happy as well.”

It’s an affirmative yes on that front, with coach Paul McGregor saying his hooker’s scintillating solo effort came as no surprise.

“He does a lot of work so he probably doesn’t get to expose himself a whole lot with the footy,” McGregor said.

“If you look at our spine, we’ve got Gareth [Widdop] and Ben [Hunt] who like to play on the ball, you’ve got a fullback in [Matt] Dufty who’s around the footy and you need an unselfish person like Cam there to get them and our forwards the ball.

“With the balance there, there’s no fighting over it. When he sees an opportunity like he did he can finish them off like he did [on Friday night].”