Dragons staffer Denver-bound to monitor Graham and Widdop
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has confirmed the club will send a high-performance staff member to the US to monitor Dragons players featuring in the June 23 Denver Test.
The England team, expected to be announced on Sunday night, is likely to include Dragons duo James Graham and Gareth Widdop on the team sheet to face New Zealand.
McGregor said the club already has plans in place for what looms as a difficult period, with game two of State of Origin series and the Denver Test falling on the same weekend.
The Red V could potentially have six players involved in those two matches.
The Dragons' four Origin players - Tyson Frizell, Paul Vaughan, Ben Hunt and NSW's 19th man Tariq Sims - all backed up in the 18-16 win over the Bulldogs on Monday at ANZ Stadium.
McGregor revealed that with a short turnaround from Origin II and the Denver Test before the Dragons round 16 clash against the Eels on Thursday, June 28, his players will be thoroughly assessed by medical staff.
"We are sending one of our high-performance staff over there [to Denver]," he said.
"If they [Graham and Widdop] go over there and they're not right to play on the Thursday after it, they won't play for us."
Graham had a different role against his old club at Sydney Olympic Park on Monday.
He played 25 minutes in the first half and 22 minutes in second-half stints – slightly below his usual numbers.
McGregor said putting Graham back on for the final two minutes of the match has been his plan all along.
"I wanted him on the field at the end of the game," McGregor said.
"He was blowing a bit ... so I took him off and gave him a spell, but I was always going to throw him back on.
"It was a big week for him. He's been a big feature in what the Bulldogs have done in the past and he's a man of good character.
"We are fortunate enough to have that leader now in our group, so I needed him to feel that experience at the back end ... playing against his old team."
McGregor also praised prop Paul Vaughan for helping stop a potential Bulldogs try to Marcelo Montoya in the dying stages.
Montoya made a 40 metre break down the right edge before being put over the sideline by fullback Matt Dufty.
But it was Vaughan who kept pace with the Bulldogs winger so he couldn't pass to his inside man.
"I'd like to wrap Paul [Vaughan] to be honest, because he was actually the bloke on the inside chasing, forcing the bloke to the sideline,'' McGregor said.
"Between the pair of them it was a moment we needed, it was definitely a changing moment in the game."