Anthony Griffin will continue to select Corey Norman and Matt Dufty over St George Illawarra's emerging talent, despite telling the pair their playing futures lay elsewhere next season.
Boom fullback Tyrell Sloan made an impressive NRL debut in the round-15 defeat of Canberra but the 19-year-old will make way for the return of Dufty against the Warriors on Friday night, while Jayden Sullivan and Talatau Amone are considered the Red V’s long-term halves pairing.
All have had a taste of NRL action but Griffin rejected calls to fast-track them into the team now that the call has been made not to offer Norman and Dufty new contracts.
"We made some calls over the last few weeks on what we think are the best interests of the long-term future of the club but at the moment we are going flat out trying to win this game and get into the play-offs," the coach said on Thursday.
"Corey Norman and Matt Dufty have got a lot of experience and have played finals football, and week-in and week-out they have done a really good job for us.
Warriors v Dragons - Round 16
"There is a balance there in that the other guys are getting their opportunities when they are available to them but there is a short-term priority too as a club to put out our strongest team at the moment that we think can win games of football every weekend.
"That is our priority."
The Dragons are bolstered this weekend by the return of Dufty from a shoulder injury and the availability of forwards Josh McGuire and Tyrell Fuimaino after each served five-match suspensions.
With a bye next weekend, Griffin said star centre Zac Lomax was expected back from a wrist injury for their next match against Manly.
"It is good that there is pressure [for positions], whether they are old guys or 18-year-olds," he said.
"What I like about our club at the moment, and our group, is that every time someone gets an opportunity they do their job, which helps you build your depth and helps you build your short-term successes but also secures and underpins your long-term growth as a club."
Former NSW Origin forward Jack de Belin is also expected to provide a boost for the Dragons in the run towards the finals after starting his first match in three years against Canberra.
"He is just starting to find his feet. He had his first start last week and he is really chasing the game and trying to improve himself really quickly because he has been out for that long," Griffin said.
"He is a quality player and those type of guys, because they are in your team, they do lift people around them.
Tyrell Sloan scores a ripper on debut
"I think at the moment he is still building. His attitude towards his footy and his team is helping everyone around him."
The 30-year-old said in an interview with the club's website that he still had ambitions of playing State of Origin and Griffin believes he is capable of a Blues recall next season.
"Tariq [Sims] missed out last year but he played some good footy this year and got himself into the side so I suppose next year if Jack can have a good off-season and build his form, he has been there before so he would be capable of doing it again next year, I imagine," he said.
"His last performance against Canberra he played for 60 minutes, and was probably one of our better forwards with and without the ball."