After taking so long to find a winning NRL formula, St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor is in no mood for changing.
While Ben Hunt has made it clear his desire is to play halfback for the Dragons, McGregor is unapologetic about persisting with the Queensland State of Origin representative in a utility role off the bench.
Hunt will again don the No.14 jersey for the Dragons in Saturday’s match against Gold Coast at Suncorp Stadium after playing a key hand in the role for the club’s first win of the 2020 season against Cronulla last weekend.
Coming on in the 22nd minute, Hunt was instrumental from dummy-half in the 30-16 victory at Campbelltown Stadium.
McGregor said, for now, he will persist with Hunt in the role and skipper Cameron McInnes at lock.
“No seven wants to play nine, they look after their good looks, don’t want pack their head in the scrum too often,” McGregor said.
“Benny’s been brought here as the seven, Cam’s been brought here as a nine and they’re both very good players in their positions but what the team needs now is Cam to move to 13 and Ben to play nine because he changed the game last week when he come on the field.
“We expect that impact this week as well.”
The Dragons head north knowing another win would further ease the pressure on McGregor, who earned a reprieve from the board just days before beating the Sharks.
The Titans were unable to back up their own drought-breaking win against West Tigers when they slipped to defeat against South Sydney last weekend.
That performance against the Rabbitohs stung coach Justin Holbrook, who has wasted no time bringing recruit Corey Thompson straight into his starting team at fullback after he completed a switch from the Tigers on Monday.
Thompson replaces Dale Copley (ankle) in the Titans’ backline with Phillip Sami shifting from fullback to winger.
“Phil’s done a good job filling in there for us, but it’s not his preferred position and you need someone that is a bit of a specialist to play there, so yeah, that’s why he’s straight in,” Holbrook said.
KEY MATCH STATS
* Gold Coast are aiming to make it three wins from three at Suncorp Stadium after defeating Brisbane at the ground last year and Wests Tigers a fortnight ago.
* St George Illawarra are aiming for their fifth straight win against the Titans.
* Dragons star Ben Hunt has scored nine tries against the Titans, his equal highest tally against any club along with Sydney Roosters.