St George Illawarra 2018: Dragons Origin stars to back-up against Bulldogs

GOOD TO GO: Dragons halfback Ben Hunt will back up from Origin I along with the rest of his sides' rep contingent. Picture: AAP
GOOD TO GO: Dragons halfback Ben Hunt will back up from Origin I along with the rest of his sides' rep contingent. Picture: AAP

ST GEORGE Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has confirmed his four-strong rep contingent will play against the Bulldogs on Monday after pulling up well from Origin I.

Paul Vaughan and Jack de Belin made their Origin debuts in the Blues victory while Tyson Frizell and Ben Hunt were among their respective sides’ best at the MCG.

Hunt and de Belin both carried injuries into camp, with de Belin still battling a persistent hip complaint and Hunt nursing a corked thigh suffered in the Dragons last-start loss to Penrith.

McGregor said all four will take the field on Monday.

"They're all right to play, absolutely. They've pulled up well,” McGregor said ahead of the captain's run on Sunday.

“Benny and Friz, Bomber [de Belin] and Vaughny did more recovery on Friday than anything else and worked through what they needed to work through.

"Certainly we had a sit-down and a chat about coming back and displaying why they got chosen for Origin, which is important to your team, yourself and your fans.

“Post-Origin certainly tests your character, [I know] from past experience. You can't be comfortable with what you've done, it's what your about to do that's important.

“Certainly the reason why [they were selected], besides their natural ability and how hard they've worked, is how the team's going. It's important they come back now and display why they're an Origin player.”

Having started season 9-3 for a share of the competition lead, McGregor could have been tempted to rest his rep stars but said it was the best chance they have to back them up given the demands that are to come.

The Dragons have just four days to recover from Origin II before their Thursday-night round 16 clash with Parramatta, while Gareth Widop and James Graham will play in the Denver Test Match a day earlier.

They'll have another four-day turnaround into their round 18 match with the Tigers after Origin III and McGregor said it was important to bank a win with his rep players on deck.

“At the moment this is the longest recovery we have through any Origin period with the five days [recovery],” McGregor.

“It's like a five-day turn from a club game so this is the best opportunity to play them. This week for me, and for the team, is the most important week because we have them here on a five-day turn and they've all pulled up from Origin really well.

“We'll see how it goes through the next couple of weeks and see how they pull up after each game. We've got some things in place because we've got a few things coming up and the turnarounds are a lot tighter.”

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