Ahead of Friday's #NRL game between Penrith Panthers and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, writer Rob C...
5 hours ago
Dragons winger Nathan Blacklock is one of three players who will line?up in first grade with St George Illawarra for the first time this season against the Knights in Newcastle on Friday.
Blacklock, who last played first grade for the Dragons on June 1 last year, will be joined as a ?newcomer? this week by winger John Wilshere and prop Quentin Pongia, who joined the club less than two weeks ago after a stint in France.
Both Blacklock and Wilshere have shown great form in Premier League and have earned the starting wing spots ahead of Hassan Saleh and the injured Amos Roberts. Roberts will be out for at least another four weeks with a shoulder injury, while Saleh will play Premier League.
Pongia has been named on the bench along with Craig Stapleton, Henry Perenara and Mark Riddell. Pongia is expected to bring some experience and a winning attitude to the young Dragons side.
Both Pongia and Stapleton will also provide good support for State of Origin props Luke Bailey and Jason Ryles, who will be backing up 48 hours after their clash with Queensland.
Riddell?s starting hooker spot has been filled by 2003 NRL rookie Dean Young, while other changes to the starting line-up include Origin five-eighth Shaun Timmins moving back to centre and John Cross starting at lock.
Dragons coach Nathan Brown said the changes were a result of inconsistent form by his side which has won only one of their past four games after a three-match winning streak.
?The form of some our players has been down a touch while the form of the reserve grade players has been great,? Brown said.
?John Wilshere, Nathan Blacklock and Craig Stapleton have been playing well and deserve a chance. Mark Riddell knows why he is on the bench. Dean Young has a lot of maturity for a young kid and will handle the starting role well.?
TEAM LIST ? Friday, June 13 ? Energy Australia Stadium
7.30pm NRL - DRAGONS V KNIGHTS
NRL (Rd 14) Coach: Nathan Brown 1. Ben HORNBY 2. Nathan BLACKLOCK 3. Shaun TIMMINS 4. Matt COOPER 5. John WILSHERE 6. Dean BYRNE 7. Brett FIRMAN 8. Luke BAILEY 9. Dean YOUNG 10. Jason RYLES 11. Brent KITE 12. Lance THOMPSON (c) 13. John CROSS 14. Craig STAPLETON 15. Quentin PONGIA 16. Mark RIDDELL 17. Henry PERENARA