THE Dragons pack made a major step up in the absence of Paul Vaughan, but young prop Josh Kerr says they're more than ready to welcome the Test star back this week.
Vaughan remains in quarantine after being banished into isolation by the NRL following a breach of the game's biosecurity protocols.
The 29-year-old cannot re-enter the bubble until Thursday but interim coach Dean Young named him on the interchange bench for Friday's clash with Brisbane on Tuesday.
Kerr has stepped up to fill Vaughan's shoes the last two weeks, but will be happy to welcome him back against Brisbane.
"It'll definitely be good to have him back, it's Paul Vaughan, he's a NSW player, he's an Australian player and one of the best players at the club," Kerr said.
"It's been a great opportunity for me to start and get some more confidence around that role. It's unfortunate to come through Vaughany mucking up in a sense but it's been a really good step in my development as a player.
"I've always been a bit nervous about starting but it's a nervous feeling I've always wanted. I'm enjoying every minute of it, but it'll be unreal to have him back."
Vaughan's absence was a conspicuous one against the Roosters a fortnight ago, but Kerr and fellow middles Blake Lawrie and Kaide Ellis made a massive step up in an upset win over the Eels last week.
Kerr said going toe-to-toe with one of the best middle forward rosters in the competition was a major confidence booster.
"They're one of the form packs of the competition at the moment and, leading into the week, I was thinking it was a great opportunity to see how I'd go," Kerr said.
"It was great to have a forward pack come up hard against me and target me and come off all right against them.
"We were up against Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo, Nathan Brown and, I wouldn't say we were a bunch of nobodies, but we're a bunch of guys they probably thought they were going to roll over. It was unreal for us to step up against a team like that and we'll gain massive confidence from that."
Vaughan comes onto the bench for Tristan Sailor in an otherwise unchanged 17, with Tyrell Fuimaono named to start in the back row pending the outcome of his judiciary hearing on Tuesday night.