A HEARTBROKEN Trent Merrin has unleashed an extra dimension to his arsenal in the wake of his shock axing from the NSW side earlier this month.
Merrin was an unlucky casualty for NSW in game III, having been strong in the opening State of Origin clashes.
It was a case of deja vu for the prop forward who suffered the same fate last year.
‘‘It was heartbreaking,’’ Merrin said. ‘‘But like it did last year it’ll keep me on toes, and it’s a blessing in disguise because it keeps me wanting to hunt for that jersey.
‘‘I’m only 22 so that’s the way I look at it.
‘‘It’s like holding a carrot in front of a donkey.’’
Merrin was among the Dragons’ best on Sunday, highlighted by a runaway try which ensued an 18-10 victory for St George Illawarra against Cronulla.
While much has been made about Canterbury’s big men in Sam Kasiano and James Graham promoting the ball, few are better
He leads the competition in off-loads for a prop (33) and is equal fourth overall, just three behind New Zealand’s Feleti Mateo, including four on Sunday.
‘‘I think it’s a role that I’m going to start taking on,’’ Merrin said.
‘‘I want to take some control over that and build on it and see how far it goes.’’
Merrin off-loaded 20 times in 25 matches last year — yet he reached that figure after just 10 games
While his off-loads have been a constant this year, Merrin standing at first-receiver and acting as a distributor was a major factor in the Dragons’ crisp ball movement in recent weeks.
It has been a role filled by teammate Dean Young.
‘‘Dean has been great,’’ Merrin said. ‘‘He is helping me build some skill there.
‘‘The other day we were talking about it and he was showing me a few things that I need to tweak.
‘‘It’s great to have a player like that.’’
Sitting two points outside a finals finish, Merrin said the side was poised to a charge into the top eight.
‘‘The main goal is to get into the semis,’’ Merrin said.
‘‘We’ve got the team and the skills.
‘‘We should be one of the teams in the top eight and show teams that we are capable of it."
Feleti Mateo 36
Paul Gallen 35
Issac Luke 34*
Trent Merrin 33
Justin Hodges 33