Ben Hunt has backed Andrew Fifita to add something different to the St George Illawarra pack if the club pursue their interest in poaching the ex-Test prop from Cronulla.
The former NSW Origin star has been playing reserve grade over the first two rounds of the NRL season and was again named on the Sharks’ extended bench this week.
Fifita was plagued with a chronic knee injury last season and played just 12 games, but is understood to be disgruntled about his relegation to feeder club Newtown and is considering his options elsewhere.
With this season and next yet to run on his big-money contract with the Sharks, the Dragons are carefully monitoring the situation and are interested for the right price.
“I see it as a pretty good addition to our club if that’s the route they want to take,” said Dragons skipper Hunt on Thursday.
“He’d add something a bit different for us, he’s obviously really big and mobile and he’s got a really good offload that can create some second-phase play.
“With how fast the game is at the moment it’s something that could help us.”
Dragons coach Anthony Griffin has worked with Fifita in the past with the Tongan side but on Thursday said he’s willing to be patient in the market for the right player.
Currently the Dragons are short of an experienced forward after losing Tyson Frizell to Newcastle and Jack de Belin stood down until his sexual assault case clears the courts.
“We’ve got a couple of spots left, so we plan to be patient with those,” Griffin said.
“You’d be surprised how many people are still on the market who are under contract.
“It’s always moving and we need to make sure that who we bring in is in the best interest in our team, our club and our culture.”
Former representative players Paul Vaughan, Tariq Sims, Andrew McCullough, Trent Merrin and Hunt are the most experienced players in the side.
Griffin said while he’s happy for the Dragons to be linked to players, he’s generally happy with his forward pack after their first win of the season against North Queensland.
“Cronulla have got a great forward pack… we did everything we needed to do against them for long periods (in round one),” he said.
“We didn’t deserve to win that game through our own errors but I thought our forwards matched their forwards and at times got on top of them.
“Last week in the second half we did a really good job again, so I’ve got no question on our forwards.”
But heading into Friday’s match against Manly at WIN Stadium, both Griffin and Hunt are wary despite Manly’s two losses to Sydney Roosters and South Sydney.
“Manly have always had a lot of fight in their side over the last decade when they’re under pressure the most they come out swinging so we definitely can’t take them lightly,” Hunt said.
“They’ll be hungry to win and they’ve got a lot of firepower in their team that can put points on you pretty quick.
“We’ve go to be better than we were last week.”