You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Dragons halfback Ben Hunt and Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk.

Unprecedented stability in the Dragons playing ranks has Paul McGregor confident he can navigate his side's alarming post-Anzac Day form slumps of recent years.

For the eighth straight week McGregor has named an unchanged starting side ahead of Wednesday's bumper clash with the Roosters, and has used only 18 players so far this season.

In all his time as a player and now NRL coach, McGregor admitted he couldn't recall a similar scenario, at least "not with the talent I've got available" in his current squad.

The 2018 ladder leaders also used just 25 players last year (equal fewest with Canterbury), but failed to make the finals after going into their traditional Anzac showdown sitting in first place.

A similar fall plagued the club in 2015 as well, when they nosedived after a strong start to bow out in week one of the finals having finished eighth.

But coming off their first loss of the year to the Warriors and a five-day turnaround, McGregor stressed he has a more rounded team at his disposal thanks in part to the marquee signings of Ben Hunt and James Graham.

"We've got different personnel, a lot more experience and we've got two very experienced and a No.7 in James and Ben," McGregor said.

"And our guys a lot more experienced individually too. Our forwards are all around that 26-27 age, which is a really nice age of seasoned players.

Robinson/McGregor expect a tough ANZAC Day encounter

"We've got Euan [Aitken] now in his third or fourth year, [Matt] Dufty gives us a point of difference at the back, Cam McInnes is now an 80-minute hooker where he wasn't this time last year.

"So I think it's a combination of everything. It's not just one thing. But we're in a better situation than we ever have been as my three years as coach."

The Dragons will only have one field session on Tuesday as a result of their short turnaround and return from New Zealand, while the Roosters have an extra day of recovery from last Thursday's exhaustive shut-out of the Bulldogs.

McGregor called out what the Warriors repeated goal line infringements last Friday, which saw them prevail on the scoreboard despite conceding a 13-5 penalty count.

The Roosters famed 2013 defence of their own try line drew on similar tactics, and veteran winger Jason Nightingale conceded other teams would likely adopt a similar blue-print to nullify their attack, currently the most potent in the competition.

It's obviously an effective way of defending, which is a shame but we got pinged on our own line when we were trying to defend as well," Nightingale said.

Asked if it was a tactic the Dragons expected to encounter in future, he said: "I think it was effective... that was very effective as far as defending us went. I assume (opposition teams) will. It worked."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners