Priddis 'back from the dead' and keen to play on

He may be the oldest player at the club at a spritely 33 but St George Illawarra hooker Luke Priddis says he is enjoying a new lease on life this season that could see him play on beyond 2010.<br><br>Having pondered retirement last season, Priddis’ decision to play on for one more year has seen him land on his feet with a return to the Dragons’ starting line-up in place regular dummy-half Nathan Fien, who badly broke his ankle against Parramatta in Round 1.<br><br>“I won’t say that retirement is definite,” Priddis told NRL.com today. “It all depends on how the body is feeling. <br><br>“I’ll see how the body pulls up towards the end of the year and make a decision then.<br><br>“But it’s pretty good at the moment.<br><br>“The training staff here are good at giving blokes a day off when they need it and we’ve had a long turnaround this week, so I’m feeling refreshed.”<br><br>Priddis looked certain to be stranded on 295 career games when coach Wayne Bennett suggested he retire at the end of last season, with Fien and Dean Young the two men earmarked to share the Dragons’ dummy-half duties in 2010.<br><br>But a change of heart has proved a godsend for both player and club, with Priddis last month becoming just the 14th man to play 300 first grade games.<br><br>More importantly, his sudden return to the starting line-up has seen a return to the sort of form that brought him premierships with Brisbane in 2000 and Penrith in 2003.<br><br>“It’s funny,” Priddis said. “I didn’t think I’d be here at all this year but starting games – that’s the way I play and I think I’ve settled in much better starting games than trying to come off the bench and do things. <br><br>“I was speaking to a few guys here that said they tried to do too much as well when they came off the bench last year and they prefer starting this year. <br><br>“But it’s hard when you’re an experienced player coming off the bench because you think you should be starting and you over-play your hand. <br><br>“This year, it’s unlucky for Nathan but I’ve got that starting role now and I feel more part of the team.<br><br>“So it’s been a good year, and touch wood it keeps going.”<br><br>Priddis will have a huge role to play for the Dragons this weekend when they take on Canberra minus six regular starters.<br><br>Having gone down to Manly two weeks ago when Michael Weyman and Jason Nightingale withdrew late, they face the Raiders without Weyman, Darius Boyd, Matt Cooper, Neville Costigan, Ben Creagh and Brett Morris on State of Origin duty.<br><br>But the veteran hooker said the interruption would be minimal.<br><br>“We’ve still got Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby and Dean Young there so the nucleus of the side is there and our role doesn’t change at all,” he said. <br><br>“It’s just a few blokes coming into the front row to replace Mick Weyman or in the centres replacing Matt Cooper. <br><br>“The good thing for us is that we got off to a good start and are in a good position. <br><br>“We realise we’re down on troops but we expect the blokes that come in for a game or two to do their jobs. <br><br>“We don’t expect them to set the world on fire but they just need to get the job done and we should be good enough on the day if everyone plays up to their potential.”<br><b><br>Late NRL news:</b><br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Dragons five-eighth Soward will line-up against the Raiders on Sunday despite suffering from the flu this week;<br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Parramatta expect five-eighth Kris Keating to be fit to take on Cronulla this weekend after he missed Monday night’s win over Manly with a knee injury; and<br>•&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;South Sydney back-rower Michael Crocker is set to make his season debut against the Warriors on Sunday after suffering from nagging Achilles and hamstring problems. <br>