Dragons in desperate need of propping up - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons in desperate need of propping up

By Steve Jancetic 28/05/2009 05:37:20 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra are about to find just how big a part engine room partners Justin Poore and Michael Weyman have played in their stunning start to the NRL season.

That's because when the second-placed Dragons run out against Penrith at WIN Stadium on Friday night, Poore and Weyman will be 1000kms away tucked up in a Werribee hotel room in camp with the NSW Origin side.

While their first sky blue jumpers have no doubt come as a reward for their on-field endeavours, the Dragons have been left hoping their contribution to the team - with a combined 245 metres and 52 tackles a game - doesn't prove irreplaceable.

"I hope not, because that means the blokes that come in won't be playing well," skipper Ben Hornby said.

"It's something that we have to adjust to ... we feel like we've got a side that can go out there and win.

"They've (replacements props Jon Green and Trent Merrin) trained with us all off-season and most of the week so they'll be right to come in and fit into our system as much as possible."

Asked if replacing props was easier than finding a fill-in for Queensland winger Darius Boyd, given the fact front rowers don't take part in any sweeping backline movements, Hornby said:

"A little bit, but the blokes up front have been getting all the metres, without them it's hard for the other blokes to do their job.

"It's tough no matter where you lose a quality player."

The Panthers know a thing or two about losing quality, with skipper Petero Civoniceva, try-scoring freak Michael Jennings and utility Luke Lewis all in Origin camp.

The Origin absentees - with the Dragons also without Ben Creagh on top of Poore, Weyman and Boyd - have taken a lot of the gloss off what would otherwise be a massive clash between two sides entrenched in the top four.

Hornby said the prospect of seven big-name players being forced to watch the game on television was worthy of once again opening up the debate about playing Origin games on stand-alone weekends.

"I think it's something that we're going to have to look at," Hornby said.

"You'd like to see all the players play all the big games, Origin and obviously club games as well. It's something we probably have to look at."

As if losing Civoniceva and Lewis from the pack wasn't bad enough, it was revealed on Thursday that backrower and stand-in skipper Trent Waterhouse was an unlikely starter due to an eye injury.

Waterhouse was hospitalised after poking himself in the eye during last week's big win over the Sydney Roosters.

Gavin Cooper is set to move from the bench to the starting line-up should Waterhouse be forced out, with Andrew Emelio and one of either Joseph Paulo or Masada Iosefa to also drop off an extended bench.

Dragons centre Matt Cooper is also under an injury cloud after he failed to take part in Thursday's final training session with a calf strain.

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