Jason Nightingale to come out of retirement for St George Illawarra Dragons at NRL Nines

He's back: Renown United junior Jason Nightingale has come out of retirement to play in the NRL Nines for St George Illawarra this weekend. Picture: John Veage
He's back: Renown United junior Jason Nightingale has come out of retirement to play in the NRL Nines for St George Illawarra this weekend. Picture: John Veage

Jason Nightingale will don his beloved red V for one final time this weekend, coming out of retirement to play for the Dragons at the NRL Nines.

Nightingale is part of St George Illawarra's 18-man squad which also includes Australian Nines internationals Ben Hunt and Tyson Frizell and new Dragons captain Cameron McInnes who has recovered from the broken leg he suffered at the end of last season.

Korbin Sims has also been drafted into the squad to replace Blake Lawrie, who has been ruled out with a knee injury.

While veteran Nightingale will return, there is also room for the next generation with Jason Saab and Tristan Sailor also included alongside development players Adam Clune, Jayden Sullivan and under-20s player of the year Cody Ramsey.

Renown United junior Nightingale saw his career ended by an elbow injury at the back end of the 2018 season.

The 33-year-old remains one of the joint venture club's favourite sons and was excited to get one more crack at playing for the Dragons.

"It's going to be nice to finish my career on my terms, and not with an injury... although I still have to get through the tournament first," Nightingale joked.

"I haven't done anything competitive for 18 months so it has been exciting to have a purpose to training and an excuse to hang around footballers again.

"It's going to be a free-flowing affair with a carnival atmosphere and a great opportunity to not only wheel out the old fellas but also to blood some new, young talent.

"That's why I feel grateful to be a part of this Nines, to receive an opportunity to play with these players who in the coming years will be where they're destined to be in first grade."

Nightingale played 265 games for St George Illawarra scoring 110 tries including two in the 2010 grand final victory over the Sydney Roosters, his career highlight.

Nightingale was the last surviving member of that premiership-winning side. He also helped the Dragons win the 2011 World Club Challenge and played 33 Tests for New Zealand.

He first pulled on the famous red V as a 15-year-old, representing St George in the Harold Matthews and SG Ball competitions from 2002 to 2004.

He is also part of an exclusive club of players who have featured in 250 NRL games, scored more than 100 tries, played more than 30 Tests and won a premiership. Its members are Billy Slater, Darren Lockyer, Brad Fittler and Nightingale.

The Dragons take on local rivals Cronulla at 8.45pm (AEST) on Friday night before facing Parramatta on Saturday afternoon at 3.25pm.

Dragons 2020 NRL Nines squad:

Euan Aitken, Adam Clune, Matt Dufty, Jackson Ford, Tyson Frizell, Tyrell Fuimaono, Ben Hunt, Josh Kerr, Tim Lafai, Cameron McInnes, Jason Nightingale, Cody Ramsey, Mikaele Ravalawa, Jason Saab, Tristan Sailor, Korbin Sims, Jayden Sullivan, Brayden Wiliame