ALEX HEINKE reports.
St George Illawarra fullback Josh Dugan says instrumental playmaker Benji Marshall will return from injury this Thursday for a must win match against Penrith.
Without Marshall, who has been out with a hamstring injury, the Dragons were humbled 32-6 by Brisbane on Friday, leaving them hanging grimly onto their spot in the eight.
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Coach Paul McGregor’s decision to start forward Jack de Belin in the halves backfired against the competition leaders, who led 32-0 before back-up playmaker Drew Hutchinson was finally introduced into the game.
The Dragons are now locked in a battle to keep surging Manly at bay in the race for a finals berth, ahead of the ninth-placed Sea Eagles only on points differential.
Dragons fullback Josh Dugan said on Monday he expected Marshall to return and make an instant impact.
“It was just a small tear, so really he was only looking at one or two weeks out anyway,” Dugan said.
“Benji’s pretty professional in that way, and he’s been doing everything he can and I’ll be expecting him to play on Thursday.”
The Dragons have an easy run home that includes matches against Penrith, Gold Coast and the Wests Tigers.