Ennis: How Dragons will cope with six picked for Origin
FOX League expert Michael Ennis has tipped a whopping six Dragons players to get selected for the Origin opener but even with half-a-dozen stars missing he can't see the club hitting crisis point during the representative period.
Speaking to Fox Sports, Ennis said he expected Tyson Frizell to be joined by Jack De Belin, Paul Vaughan, Cameron McInnes and Euan Aitken in the NSW side, with Ben Hunt to oppose them in the Queensland No.7 jersey.
It's a prospect that many St George Illawarra fans are dreading, with the table-toppers to be vulnerable to a costly slump should the core of Paul McGregor's side be taken from him.
While the Origin period will no doubt pose some big challenges of McGregor's side, Ennis said it would be the making of a fresh crop of talent and would not cost the Dragons when it comes to the crunch.
"We saw yesterday Reece Robson come on in dummy half, it's obviously Paul McGregor getting ready to have no Cameron McInnes, blooding him into the system," Ennis said.
"Jai Field's been on the cusp for a number of years now, and a young guy called Zachary Lomax, I've got a real rap on him, I saw him play some football in the Charity Shield, he's a wonderful centre so he'll cover that Euan Aitken position."
The Dragons have a bye on the weekend leading into the Origin series opener and don't meet their next opponents, the Bulldogs, until five days after Origin I.
It's just about the best possible draw for them to deal with the challenging period but Ennis conceded the mental toll of playing the full series would be the big test, particularly for those who hadn't played Origin before.
"It's a real challenge Origin. It's not always just the game after and backing up, it's the weeks after, it's the mental drain that Origin has on you, it's so consuming," Ennis said.
"I talk to Wade Graham about it and he had so much good anxiety and so much passion about playing for NSW but didn't realise how much it would take out of him physically and mentally.
"It's a huge beast now Origin and it's going to be a massive test for Paul McGregor."
If as many players are picked out of McGregor's side as Ennis is expecting it will likely make the Dragons the best represented club in this year's Origin series.
However, guarding against the absence of all their best players is the contingent of internationals they have who aren't eligible for the gruelling interstate series.
English Test stars James Graham and Gareth Widdop will be holding down the fort for the Red V, along with New Zealand veteran Jason Nightingale.
According to Ennis, it will be those players who determine how the Dragons survive through the mid-season craziness.
"But guys like James Graham and Jason Nightingale and these sort of guys come with so much experience and they'll be able to hold the fort there," Ennis said.
"Gareth Widdop, another Englishman, it's so handy to have other internationals.
"We see other sides, especially the Warriors (play well), during the Origin period.
"So it's testing times for the Dragons but one I think Paul McGregor will be happy with. He looks like a coach who's happy for his player to get the recognition they deserve."
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