Caretaker coach Paul McGregor is welcoming the challenge of coming up against NRL heavyweights Souths in his first game in charge of the Dragons.

St George Illawarra caretaker coach Paul McGregor is relishing the challenge posed by NRL heavyweights South Sydney in his first game in charge of the Dragons.

McGregor was parachuted into the head coaching role after Steve Price’s sacking on Monday, and said he only took the job after getting the OK to do so from his former boss.

The Dragons face Souths at ANZ Stadium on Monday night in the final game of round 12 with all of the Rabbitohs State of Origin stars – Greg Inglis, Ben Te’o and Chris McQueen, expected to back up, while hooker Issac Luke is likely to return from a shoulder injury suffered in round three.

“You might as well start with a very formidable side,” McGregor said.

“If you look at the start of the year everyone would say they are a top four side, so we will see how we aim up against a top four side first up.

“I’m looking forward to that, why not?

“I think every player, and this is one thing I want to stress about our group, everyone should be looking to play good footballers because that makes you a better footballer.

“We just have to take that into account, that when you play someone you walk off the field better than them.

“If you can do that week to week you win games of footy.”

The Dragons will be without NSW winger Brett Morris who is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury suffered in Origin I.

Regardless Queensland back-rower Te’o said Souths were wary of the joint venture motivated by the change in coach.

“I definitely think they are going to come fired up, motivated with a point to prove,” Te’o said.

“They will be looking to do a good job for their new coach.

“We are ready for that, it is always going to be tough playing a team off the back of that but you have to deal with it.”