St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has stressed the significance of securing a win this week before his team embarks on a nightmare road trip through Queensland.
The Dragons host Penrith in Wollongong on Sunday before leaving for a ten-day tour through the sunshine state that includes back-to-back matches against both 2015 NRL grand finalists.
McGregor’s men briefly return home before again getting back on a plane headed to Gold Coast.
They visit the Warriors in Auckland a fortnight later, but McGregor already said they weren’t going to blame the frequent flyer miles for any sub-par performances.
“We knew the draw at the start of the season, so there’s no excuses there,” he said.
“We’re on the road for about ten days after this week. We’ve looked at the double up at North Queensland and Brisbane.
“They’re tough games, both the premiership and runners-up teams.
“For us at the moment, we’ve got a really important game this week against a very capable side in Penrith.”
The gruelling schedule means the two points on offer against the Panthers is particularly vital after winning just one of the opening three games.
Dragons fans will also be re-acquainted with former star Trent Merrin, who returns to Wollongong for the first time since leaving at the end of 2015.
McGregor told the Red V army to give him a “nice reception”, reminding the fans that it was Merrin’s decision to move elsewhere.
“He’s playing for a different club so he’ll be coming in with the attitude to walk away with the two points. It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he said.
“He’s no longer at our club – he chose to leave. So it’s our job to make sure that we give him a nice reception.”