Going the distance: St George Illawarra hooker Mitch Rein. Photo: Orlando Chiodo
Cameron King might have departed, but there are no guarantees St George Illawarra hooker Mitch Rein will become a regular 80-minute player as a result.
"Cameron's moved on, but there are still a couple of young guys coming through – Craig Garvey's a good player, and I'm sure when he's called upon, he'll be ready to go," Rein said.
"It's good to have a bit of competition; it really helps you push yourself along.
"Whatever the coach wants to do, I'm there to do it."
An injury to King, in the 2011 World Club Challenge, allowed Rein to make his NRL debut in round one that year. Now King's move to North Queensland has given his fellow rake another opportunity to play for 80 minutes. It's an opportunity he will relish.
"I think I played five or six 80-minute games last season," Rein said. "I enjoyed them. But there were other games where I'd play 40 to 50 to 60 [minutes]. Every week was different."
He hopes to play more next year.
"I enjoy it a bit more," he said. "You settle in a bit more and get a better feel of the game. You're not really trying to do too much in a short period of time.
"Although it might be a bit more physically demanding week in, week out, if that's what the coaching staff want of me, I'm prepared to do it. We'll see how my fitness is."
Approaching the new year, Rein said the Dragons were determined to lift themselves well above their 14th-place finish this year.
"It was hard [last season]," Rein said. "We were missing a lot of key personnel throughout the year through injuries, but we can't really blame it on that.
"It was a different year, a bit challenging, because we had a couple of senior players moving on and retiring, but I think everyone will be better for it next year.
"There's a lot of healthy competition in the team now. It's only going to make everyone perform better at training, and therefore perform better in the games.
"Everyone's really pumped for this season to come around. We were a bit disappointed with last year, and we just want to get out there and prove that we're still a strong side, and a force in the competition. We've got the roster to do it."