The Dragons had an early conundrum surrounding their spine at the start of the 2019 season but coach Paul McGregor may have another selection headache looming according to True Blue Jamie Soward.
Euan Aitken has been a mainstay for the Red V in recent years and was even thrown into Origin conversations throughout the early stages of 2018, but has been dropped to the bench for prodigy Zac Lomax this weekend.
Soward believes the change could pay dividends for the club’s premiership aspirations because of Lomax’s potential.
“You have two different players – Aitken has a bit more power whereas Lomax can offer a bit more in attack with a nice step and a bit more finesse,” Soward told nswrl.com.au.
“He’s also a really great goal kicker and after Tim Lafai had a poor showing against Manly that could come into account too.”
Many suggested that Lomax would cement a wing spot for McGregor’s side this year, but he found himself in the Canterbury Cup NSW throughout the early rounds for the new season.
While Aitken’s strong defensive efforts have been a crucial element of the Dragons’ performances, Lomax’s attacking flair and goalkicking may prove to be the decisive factor.
In saying that, Soward believes the challenge for Lomax won’t be with what he does with the ball, but rather, what he does without it.
“When I did the previews at the start of the year I thought Lomax, in that right-centre position, maybe offered a little bit more (than Aitken),” Soward said.
“Aitken is very good defensively and that’s going to be the challenge for Zac – he needs to be very good defensively.
“He needs to get through some more work in the back of the field to try and get them on the front foot."
The Dragons will look to bounce back from their 20-10 defeat to the Roosters on Anzac Day with a strong showing against the Eels on Sunday afternoon.
They sit comfortably in sixth place after four consecutive victories prior to Round 7 but playing in front of a hostile crowd at the new Bankwest Stadium may prove daunting.
The inexperience between winger Mikaela Ravalawa and Lomax will be tested and Soward believes it will undoubtedly be their biggest challenge.
“He and Ravalawa are going to have their hands full down that side and trying to defend that left-hand side attack for Parramatta because they have been so dangerous," he said.
"They are going to have their work cut out for them this week and they are going to be targeted a lot.
"But Lomax with the ball is also going to cause some problems (for the opposition) on that right-edge."