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Dragons to push Origin stars against Manly

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St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has declared his State of Origin stars will be certain starters next week as the Dragons push for a top eight spot.

Despite tumbling as low as 13th after five straight defeats, the Dragons are now equal with eighth-placed Parramatta after Sunday's rout of Canterbury.

They are among five teams in a congested middle of the table on 12 points, but sit 10th on percentages ahead of Sunday's clash with Manly.

Their precarious position has prompted McGregor to play his Origin trio of Ben Hunt, Paul Vaughan and Tyson Frizell against the Sea Eagles.

"We've got to back up that performance (against the Bulldogs) or that performance doesn't mean too much," McGregor said.

"So yeah, they'll be playing if they're healthy. Definitely."

While some NRL clubs have opted to rest their Origin representatives, the Dragons were fortunate to have a five-day turnaround after game one.

McGregor may have been tempted to rest Hunt in particular, who played 80 minutes in the unfamiliar position of hooker for Queensland.

But the Maroons No.9 was one of the Dragons' best against the Bulldogs.

"Ben played in the middle for 80 minutes and done a lot of work, and (was) a little bit fatigued at the back end of (Origin I). He played well," McGregor said.

"Tyson only played minimal minutes in Origin and pulled through well, done a really good job in the middle for us today in shorter stints and didn't play that 80.

"And Vaughan I thought was very good. He probably played his best Origin last Wednesday night and backed that up today and played a solid 50 minutes."

McGregor was stunned to learn that the Dragons remain within striking distance of the top eight after their losing streak.

However the return of Corey Norman from injury gave the team the jolt they needed, and they are now primed for a top eight push.

"It is hard to believe," McGregor said.

"The competition's tight. Anyone can beat anyone on the day. You puts a couple of good wins together, you can get up the ladder pretty quick."

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