Dragons depth put to the test - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons depth put to the test

By Steve Jancetic 24/03/2011 08:40:22 PM Comments (0)

As if the off-season departure of three key players wasn't bad enough, injuries and suspension are now combining to test the mettle of St George Illawarra's NRL premiership defence.

Having already lost representative forwards Michael Weyman and Beau Scott earlier in the week to injury and suspension respectively, the Dragons are now facing the prospect of getting their campaign back on track without skipper Ben Hornby.

The veteran halfback was a virtual spectator at WIN Stadium on Thursday, with a corked thigh limiting him to some light running drills.

With Dean Young still to lace on a boot in 2011 due to ongoing knee issues, the Dragons are a shadow of the side that took out last year's grand final - with Ben Creagh the only member of that starting pack who will run out against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.

Throw in the doubt surrounding Hornby and the Dragons appear very vulnerable, though hooker Nathan Fien - who looms as a potential replacement at halfback - said the new brigade were ready to make the most of the situation.

"A few guys have got an opportunity this weekend to put their hand up for selection," Fien said.

"We know that they can get out there and do the job and we have every faith in them doing that.

"These blokes have been training with us since September and they're pumped and ready to go and a bit of enthusiasm can be added to the side as well."

But enthusiasm from the likes of rookies David Gower and Jack Bosden, along with former Manly and Cronulla forward Adam Cuthbertson, can only go so far.

The Dragons were belted off the park by Cronulla on Monday night and the premiers are struggling to find the rhythm that has made them the NRL's dominant side over the last two years.

"Our grinding style of football is a little bit wayward at the moment, we're not completing the sets that we did last year and we're putting ourselves under a lot of pressure," Fien said.

That's where the potential loss of Hornby could really impact and why Fien, rather than impressive youngster Kyle Stanley, could take over at halfback.

Stanley trained at first-receiver on Thursday, but neither he or Fien were giving much away.

"I trained there today but I'm not too sure what's going on with the team," Stanley said.

"We'll see what happens on Sunday."

As for Fien, his focus remains on playing at dummy-half.

"We'll see how he (Hornby) goes later in the week but we've got Kyle Stanley there who can cover in the halves as well," Fien said.

"I've got a job to do here at the moment playing hooker."

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