St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor expects Jai Field to slot into the halves with ease over the next month to cover the loss of key playmaker Corey Norman.
Field has not been sighted since the side's 13-12 semi-final loss to the Rabbitohs in September last season but gets his first opportunity of the year in Saturday afternoon's Magic Round clash with the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium.
A matured Field, who made his NRL debut as a 19-year-old in 2017, has added 15 kilograms to his frame over the past two seasons and McGregor believes he'll handle the occasion of starting for the first time in his Telstra Premiership career.
"Jai's been patient with where he is now. His preparation around the last two years has been about building his body up for the NRL," McGregor said.
"He's done that amazingly well. He's an exciting player, he's mature and ready to play.
"I think the patience comes with who is in front of him. In 2017 he was still very young, still eligible for the under 20s and we brought in an international in Ben Hunt.
"He got to learn off him and then with Gareth leaving we had the opportunity to bring in Corey who he'll learn from.
"I think it's really good value in that alone, but now he's got his opportunity it's displaying what he's learnt and how his body has matured to take them on."
Warriors v Dragons - Round 9
The Dragons are looking to turn results around following back-to-back loss to Parramatta and the Sydney Roosters over the past fortnight.
The Red V were greeted by and shared a flight to Brisbane with the Eels on Friday, while the Roosters weren't too far behind with their own travel commitments with a similar afternoon flight.
St George Illawarra's Magic Round opponents, the Warriors, will unveil mid-season recruit Kodi Nikorima on Saturday, while McGregor identified Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck as the main player to contain.
"Roger is a threat wherever he is and they've got Kodi coming into the team who will give them confidence with his experience and they've lost a few on the trot so they'll be looking for a good performance," McGregor said.
"They're a team that can play some good footy, they're a high offload team and their back three get them started well.
"It's not good when you get back-to-back losses throughout the journey of the competition if you want to go deep into September so we're clear on what we need to do and what a good performance looks like and that's playing two halves of footy."
McGregor welcomed the opportunity to play in the second game on Saturday's schedule following the clash between Newcastle and Canterbury.
"I think it's a good a good concept, we'll know more on Sunday night to see if it's worked but an average of 35,000 tickets sold each day is an indication it's going to be good," he said.
"A lot of players enjoy playing against each other but also enjoy catching up because there's respect there going into battle and then talking as mates. We're looking forward to playing in front of a good crowd."