Dragons coach Nathan Brown has named three rookies for St George Illawarra's round three Telstra Premiership clash with the Raiders in Canberra this weekend, taking his total debutantes this season to eight in three games.
Winger David Howell, 19, a Thirroul junior, front rower Ian Donnelly, 22, a Ballina Seagulls junior, and former Dapto junior halfback Mathew Head, 20, are the latest Dragons players set to make their NRL debuts.
Head and Donnelly have been named on a bench of six, along with Nathan Tutt, Henry Perenara and round two rookies Dean Byrne and Dean Young. Two players are to be omitted.
Howell replaces the suspended Hassan Saleh in the starting side while Donnelly stands in on the bench for one of the three debutantes last week, Ryan Tandy, who has been elevated to a starting prop spot.
Tandy replaces Craig Stapleton, who had a shoulder operation today from an incident in the Dragons 30-28 win over Parramatta at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
Earlier today, Saleh, 23, took an early plea for a dangerous throw charge in the 10th minute of the clash with the Eels. Saleh, who has no prior offences, received a penalty of 112 points which will see him miss the Raiders match on Saturday night.
Halfback Brett Firman, who made his NRL debut in round one, returns to the starting line-up after missing the Eels match with a back problem.
The Dragons team for the Round 3 Clash between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Canberra Raiders. Saturday 29 March Kickoff: 5:30PM Canberra Stadium
Coach: Nathan Brown 1. Reece SIMMONDS 2. Amos ROBERTS 3. Mark GASNIER 4. Matt COOPER 5. David HOWELL 6. Ben HORNBY 7. Brett FIRMAN 8. Luke BAILEY 9. Mark RIDDELL 10. Ryan TANDY 11. Brent KITE 12. Lance THOMPSON (c) 13. John CROSS 14. Ian DONNELLY* 15. Nathan TUTT* 16. Dean YOUNG* 17. Dean BYRNE* 18. Mathew HEAD* 19. Henry PERENARA* * Two to be omitted