When the St George Illawarra Dragons are on, the plan of attack in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW is simple: get the ball to Jai Field.
The strategy is straight-forward, but few present at WIN Stadium on Sunday afternoon could doubt its effectiveness; of the Dragons’ five tries in their 30-10 victory over the Knights, Field scored one, directly set up three and provided the line-break assist which caused the other late in the game. New captain Darren Nicholls was quick to sing Field’s praises.
“I thought Jai Field was just outstanding out there,” Nicholls told NSWRL.com.au after the win. “When he gets the ball in his hands you just don’t know what’s going to happen – he adds that X-factor for us.
“We’re just trying to work on what’s the best combination (with Field), obviously playing with a new fullback and ‘Cluney’ (Adam Clune) in the halves. It’s just what works best for the team.
“Sometimes the best thing for us is to just get Jai the ball. Different teams play different defence styles so we just need to tinker with it each week, but I think today we got right.”
Field’s efforts were exceptional as the Dragons notched up their second-straight win – as was the performance of halfback Nicholls, who also finished the game with a deserved try. Fresh off coach Mat Head’s statement that Nicholls is the best playmaker in the Intrust Super Premiership, Nicholls was humbled.
“It gives me a lot of confidence in myself and in the team,” Nicholls said. “‘Heady’ was a great halfback, so we’ve been working a lot.
“It’s great that we’ve got an ex-NRL halfback as my coach. I’ll just keep working hard – I’m just really happy that he backs me and I just want to keep doing my best for the side.”
As Head himself said a week prior, Nicholls’ sits behinds some big names on his path to an NRL debut in the halves. If injury or representative selection is provide that opportunity later in the season, Nicholls will rise to the challenge.
“I’ve just got to keep playing well in ISP,” Nicholls said. “Gareth (Widdop) and ‘Benny’ (Ben Hunt), they’ve been outstanding. If there’s a better halves pairing in the comp at the moment… I don’t know if there is one.
“I’m ready to go and I just want to do my best for the ISP side.”
Between Field and Nicholls, the Dragons boast an attack which looks to have slowly hit form; they’ll next take on the Newtown Jets at Henson Park from 3pm AEST on Saturday, 7 April.