Shoalhaven News

Fields and Nicholls expected to deliver tonight for the Dragons

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St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has absolute faith in his new look side for tonight's NRL clash against table toppers Melbourne in Wollongong.

Both sides are missing a combined 10 players who are on origin duty with the Dragons to be steered around the park by NSW Cup halves combination Jai Field and Darren Nicholls.

McGregor said he is confident the pair will deliver in the top grade.

"Dessy played the game down in Melbourne last year, he's an experienced player.

"Jai's had a month of footy there while Normy was out so he should be more than acclimatised to the rigours of the NRL now.

"I feel I've got a good balance of experience and youth out there to match the forward pack that Melbourne have," he said.

Despite missing so many stars to origin duty, McGregor expects a number of fringe players to make their mark.

"I'm quite confident to be honest, we're playing at home, It's a good opportunity for the players.

"It's their time to put it on the line so to speak, they're up against a very good football team that's six points clear on top of the ladder.

"We're going to have to do a lot of things right but they've been waiting for this opportunity," McGregor said.

New recruit Patrick Kaufusi and Mitch Allgood will play their first games for St George Illawarra when they come off the bench tonight.

Allgood has been a staple for the Dragons NSW Cup side but hasn't played an NRL game since leaving Parramatta in 2014 while Kaufusi pulls on the Red V for the first time against his former club.

"Pat played a solid 70 minutes last week in reserve grade, he'll get some time out there which is his debut for the club, so he'll be ready certainly to play his best football against the club that he left," said McGregor.

Jordan Pereira and Lachlan Timm have both dropped out of the NRL squad for tonight's game.

Written by Travis Winks

Image: AAP Image/Dean Lewins