St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin says Tariq Sims remains firmly in his plans despite being left out of the squad that will face the Warriors on Saturday.
The Dragons are priced at 5/6 to begin the 2022 NRL campaign with a win over the Warriors but NSW State of Origin forward Sims will not play a part.
It has been suggested that Sims is out of favour with Griffin, but the Dragons coach was quick to dismiss such talk and says it is a fitness issue.
Sims has been battling back from a series of calf injuries and Saturday's game against the Warriors has simply come too soon.
"It wasn't hard to overlook him," Griffin told reporters. "He's just not ready. He did his first full week of training this week after three calf tears.
"We just need to manage him and make sure when he does get on the field with us that it's for the right reasons and not because we're trying to rush him at the moment to win a game.
"The last thing we want is for him to snap his calf and be out for six weeks."
The Warriors will be a different animal in 2022 following a number of changes and Griffin thinks his side will be given a tough test.
"With Shaun Johnson back there now to help (Kodi) Nikorima and (Addin) Fonua-Blake re-signed, they've got a real platform there," Griffin added. "They're a classy team, they attack really well and I think they're on the way up as a club."