Michael Witt wants to fill the St George Illawarra No 7 jersey but faces strong competition. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODORUGBY LEAGUE
An NRL lifeline was the furthest thing from his mind a couple of months ago but Michael Witt hasn’t given up hope of unseating fellow recruit Sam Williams for the halfback role in round one.
Just one piece in a bizarre string of moves between the Dragons and English Super League outfit London Broncos, Witt is looming as a wildcard to fill St George Illawarra’s troublesome No 7 role.
The 30-year-old was plucked from the Super League strugglers over summer to add depth in the halves.
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He joins a queue for the halfback role that once included Williams, Kyle Stanley and Josh Drinkwater.
Stanley is looming as a bench utility while Drinkwater will join London after he was granted an early release from the Dragons.
Jamie Soward landed with the London Broncos in a similar manner after a mid-season exit last year.
Witt shone in a brief cameo for the Dragons in an otherwise forgettable Charity Shield against Souths; he laid down a genuine claim to be first-choice halfback against the Wests Tigers on Sunday week.
“[I’ll] keep working hard and keep doing everything I’m told … as well as keep annoying the coach,” joked the ex- Eel, Sea Eagle and Warrior halfback.
“[The call from the Dragons] probably did come out of the blue. It wasn’t something I was focused on.
“We had four years in the UK and enjoyed our time there, but it’s good to get home.
“Obviously I want to play as much first grade as I can. That’s what it’s all about and that’s the reason I came back here. I just want to be in the 17 and play as much as I can.”
St George Illawarra coach Steve Price remained non-committal to his preferred halfback option post-Charity Shield but Williams partnered marquee recruit Gareth Widdop for the opening 60 minutes.
Witt has borne the brunt of jokes from teammates since his arrival as the Dragons’ elder statesman, but is determined to add to his 90 NRL games from 2003-09.
“They’re really good. While they’re quite young, there’s still a fair bit of experience in the squad and rep players who have been there and done it before. I am the old boy but not too old.
“It is certainly more common [for players to return to the NRL] and a lot of people have been doing it recently,” he said.
“I can’t really put my finger on why that’s the case but I guess there are guys going over there younger and before they finish they’ve still got a bit of footy left in them. Hopefully that’s the case for me.”
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