Dragons possess the 'complete' forward pack

Dragons possess the 'complete' forward pack

The St George Illawarra Dragons' forwards are on fire, and the Warriors know it.

‌Through the first 10 games of the season the Dragons have run for more metres than any team bar the Brisbane Broncos, chewing through an average of 1650 per match.

In addition to that every 'Red V' forward named to face the Warriors in Hamilton, with the exception of hooker Cameron McInnes and interchange man Hame Sele, averages over 95 metres run individually in 2017.

Warriors centre Blake Ayshford told NRL.com that first-hand experience from earlier in the year, when the Dragons beat them 26-12 in Round 4, meant his side knew exactly what to expect this time around.

"They are a complete package from that point of view, they have got a lot of ball players, much like the Bulldogs, their ball play comes off their forwards," Ayshford said of the Dragons' big men.

"I think [Jack] de Belin has led that with his ball playing and then the big boys roll forward off that.

"Russell [Packer] got called back into the Kiwis squad, Paul Vaughan has been talked about for the Kangaroos squad and for NSW and they have got Cam McInnes there who is good at hooker.

"Plus you have got [Tyson] Frizell and Joel Thompson, two representative quality players, they are the form pack at the moment."

While much of the responsibility will fall on the Warriors' forwards to combat their opposite numbers, Ayshford admitted the back five would need to do more work coming out of yardage, believing they went missing when the going got tough in the second-half collapse against the Penrith Panthers last week.

"We probably let the team down as a back five in that second half against Penrith," he said.

"Me, Fus [David Fusitu'a], Charnze [Nicoll-Klokstad], Sol Kata and Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck] sort of let the team down by not getting them out of trouble in the second half and getting us down the right end.

"That's something we will need to fix."

Meanwhile veteran prop Jacob Lillyman highlighted his side's need to address issues in their defensive technique, which saw them miss 34 tackles in the 36-28 loss to the Panthers.

For the second week in a row the Kiwi club will be without their best defender, Simon Mannering, who is out with a hamstring injury and is replaced at lock by youngster Bunty Afoa.

"We were bouncing out of tackles, we weren't tight, things like that that just sort of snowball," Lillyman said.

"[Simon] does a lot of work that goes unnoticed, he keeps things nice and tight through that middle, so no doubt he was a big loss.

"It's just basically your intent, your physicality, you have to meet those challenges head on, you have got to be ready for it. We didn’t have that on the weekend and team wide that needs to be our focus, that aggression and intent in everything we do."