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McGregor backs 'versatile' Frizell in any position

St George Illawarra Dragons coach Paul McGregor insists Tyson Frizell's presence on the field is far more important than the number on his back.

Ahead of the Dragons' trip to North Queensland, McGregor shifted Frizell to lock in the absence of Jack de Belin, who was not eligible for selection under the NRL's recently implemented 'no-fault stand down' policy.  

McGregor said the Dragons will monitor Frizell throughout Saturday's clash against the Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium but has no doubt the 27-year-old will make a seamless transition.

"Tyson is a versatile player that's played middle third for NSW and Australia," McGregor said.

"In the trial he was probably our best forward against Souths. He's a powerful forward and the more he's involved in the game the better the team is.

Dragons back-rower Tyson Frizell.
Dragons back-rower Tyson Frizell. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"He will handle that roll really well and we will make sure that we give him opportunity to rest as well, to get the benefit out of him playing in the middle."

The Dragons have made quite a few changes this season, with Gareth Widdop moving to fullback and Matt Dufty dropping to the bench.

Corey Norman has taken over at five-eighth, promising centre Zac Lomax was unable to secure a spot, while Mikaele Ravalawa, Jacob Host and Luciano Leilua were all selected to take on the Cowboys.

McGregor is looking forward to seeing the experienced Widdop lead from the back.  

"Gareth needs to acknowledge sometimes how good he is," McGregor said.

Dragons fullback Gareth Widdop.
Dragons fullback Gareth Widdop. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"He went into the World Cup without hardly any training and he played three of the four games and was man of the match in three of them.

"We know how good he is and once he gets out there I'm sure he will show how good he is. He's been training [at fullback] on three months now so he's had a really good preparation.

"He understands the game better than most and he's our captain so he's a good voice from there as well."

The Dragons proved to be too good for the Cowboys on the one occasion they met in 2018, prevailing 24-10 at 1300SMILES Stadium.

McGregor said his team would have to match it with the Cowboys forwards if they wish to replicate that 2018 result.

"Their forwards are obviously where they lay their platform,” McGregor said.

"The addition of (Josh) McGuire, a player of his calibre coming off the interchange just goes to show how strong they are through the middle.

"It's a challenge for our forwards but it's not a task we aren't up to that for sure.

"They do play a power game - flat off the dummy-half and (Jake) Granville gets out really well.

"On the back of that (Michael) Morgan is back from not playing a lot of footy last year, so their back-line has changed quite a bit from previous years, with Nene (Macdonald) going to there and the young centre from Brisbane (Javid) Bowen getting his opportunity on the wing as well."

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