Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has made the bold call to drop halfback Kyle Flanagan from the NRL side, but says it's a chance for the 21-year-old to develop as finals loom.
The rising star was a notable omission from the Roosters team to play St George Illawarra on Thursday night, prompting assumptions he had been rested.
However, on Wednesday morning Robinson said he wanted to give Flanagan a chance to "catch his breath", and with Lachlan Lam on the rise the decision was made for this week.
After he played the first 12 games of the season for the Roosters, Robinson admitted telling Flanagan wasn't easy but he took it on the chin.
"It's always hard as a young player who is driven," Robinson said, refusing to confirm if it would be a permanent or temporary move.
"He's such a hard worker and a hard trainer and he's been physically putting in week in and week out so I can't ask for much more there."
Lam, who has played four games this season from the interchange bench, has been named to play halfback alongside Luke Keary against the Dragons in Wollongong.
"I thought it was time for Kyle not to play," Robinson said.
"He can go back and work on things that he needs to keep developing.
"That's the call for this week. I've never said he was rested or anything like that.
"I really want guys pushing for their best and Lachy has been patient and he's ready to go this week."
It's a big shake up for the injury-hit Roosters who have battled to find their brutal best in the past three weeks with two tough wins over bottom-eight sides Warriors and Gold Coast.
And against the desperate Dragons, there is no room for error.
Paul McGregor has also made a big call to drop State of Origin half Corey Norman as the club fights to remain a chance to play NRL finals.
"Corey's been below his best and we want to give Corey time to work on his game and look at what he wants out of the game and what we need to improve," McGregor said on Wednesday.
"He's obviously a very good player and we just need a little bit more out of him."
Sitting 11th on the ladder with four wins for the season, the Dragons are coming off two consecutive losses and have billed this match as a must-win.
Meanwhile, Roosters veteran Mitch Aubusson will notch up 300 NRL games on Thursday night, while fullback James Tedesco will celebrate the halfway mark with 150.
*STATS THAT MATTER*
*The Roosters have won their past four games against the Dragons and have had a sustained period of dominance since Trent Robinson took over as coach in 2013, winning 11 of 14.
*Matt Dufty has been involved in 21 of the Dragons 40 tries this season (52.5 per cent), the highest percentage of any player.
Australian Associated Press