St George Illawarra's Jai Field has declared he is ready to lead an undermanned Dragons team into Thursday night's clash against the Melbourne Storm.
With injuries and State of Origin wreaking havoc with selections, the Dragons will be without nine starting players for the crucial fixture.
The absences include both St George Illawarra's starting halves after Corey Norman was named to make his debut for Queensland in next week's State of Origin decider.
For Field, however, Norman's unavailability has a silver lining, with coach Paul McGregor expected to simply elevate NSW Cup halves Field and Darren Nicholls when he names his team on Tuesday.
"It will be good to get another shot in the top grade, I'm looking forward to it," Field said.
"You learn each time you play first grade, you learn new things every time you play, so hopefully I'll be better this time around.
"It will be exciting to play with Dessy (Nicholls), we've played a lot of footy together over the last two years so it will be good to play with a familiar face.
"I know what Dessy can bring to the table and what he's going to bring. He's going to kick well, talk and organise the team. It will be good to have him there."
The Dragons will also be without Tariq Sims, who is set to fight his grade two dangerous conduct charge at the judiciary on Tuesday night.
Sims will line up in Origin III should he beat the charge after being named in an unchanged Blues team on Monday. A guilty verdict will see Sims rubbed out for three weeks, with David Klemmer to replace him for NSW.
The Dragons remain mystified at the severity of the charge after the on-field referees and bunker opted against penalising Sims on Friday night, with his teammates rallying around the 29-year-old on Monday.
For Cameron McInnes, Michael Morgan's concussion was simply an unfortunate accident that happens in contact sport.
"I don't understand it for two reasons," McInnes said. "Firstly if it was that bad, why wasn't it dealt with on the field.
"Secondly, I've seen the footage myself, I understand what the game's trying to do in terms of safety, but we don't play a safe game. I'm sorry for the mums and fans out there, not just the mums, the dads as well and family members that have their kids playing, but it's a tough game, that's what we play and why we love it."
The Dragons captain will be the only regular starting forward to appear for the Dragons on Thursday, with James Graham, Jack de Belin, Tyson Frizell, Paul Vaughan and Sims all missing the clash at WIN Stadium.
While McInnes acknowledges extra responsibility falls on his shoulders, the 25-year-old declared he won't be making any adjustments to the way he plays against the Storm.
"The personal challenge for me is just that I play my best game, that's the challenge. Being the captain for a while while Gareth's out, that's been the challenge every week, that I bring near to my best game each week, because that's the captain's job, I think.
"With a lot of guys out, it will probably be even more important. I need to make sure I'm doing everything I can on the field, within what I do, not trying to do any more, just making sure I'm at the top of my game."
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