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Discussion in 'St George Illawarra Dragons' started by getsmarty, Nov 29, 2016.

  1. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Frizell pushing teammates rep credentials

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    22 Apr 2017, 12:54 p.m.
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    TEAM FIRST: Tyson Frizell. Picture: Sylvia Liber

    ST GEORGE Illawarra star Tyson Frizell insists he hasn’t given a lot of thought to retaining his Test and Origin jumpers, but he’s happy to push the claims of his teammates who’ve stepped up in the Dragons dominant start to the season.

    Frizell was forced to shoulder a heavy load last season, at times called upon to shift from the the edge and add some much-need punch in the middle of the park. It’s a role he hasn’t had to reprise this season, with the likes of Paul Vaughan, Jack de Belin and Russell Packer all starting the season in career-best form.

    It’s seen Vaughan and de Belin make a compelling case for NSW selection, while Packer is knocking on the door of a Test recall six years after first donning the Kiwi jumper.

    Frizell is odds-on to retain his Australian jumper for the upcoming mid-season Test but it hasn’t been a focus for him in the Dragons 6-1 start to the year.

    “I I haven’t really thought too much about rep footy,” Frizell said.

    “I go into each year trying not to think about that and that’s kind of worked for me. It’s in the back of your mind but it doesn’t drive you to play good footy, doing well [for the Dragons] is what drives you.

    “Hopefully when that time comes around I can retain a spot in that [Australian] side because I’d love nothing more. When that time comes hopefully I do get that opportunity again.”

    He is also a virtual lock for NSW given his performance in last year’s series and, asked if Vaughan or de Belin would look out of place in a blue jumper Frizell said: “Absolutely not, particularly in the form those two guys are in and you look at Russell as well.

    “He hasn’t really been spoken about as much but he certainly wouldn’t look out of place in a New Zealand jersey.

    “He’s been playing awesome footy ever since he’s come back from his time away from the game. He was player of the year at Cutters level [in 2015] and then came in and was one of our best forwards last year.

    “He’s started this year really well so it wouldn’t surprise me. Hopefully he does get that opportunity again because he definitely does deserve it.”

    “I’d love to play for my country again,” Packer said.

    “They’ve got a lot of good boys that have done a really good job for New Zealand over the years so if any of those guys get injured or they want to pick me, I certainly wouldn’t turn down that jersey.

    “But it’s an old cliche, a week’s a long time in footy, you never know what’s around the corner so my main focus is just on playing hard every week for the Dragons.”

    The Dragons big men will get another chance to press their rep claims in Tuesday’s Anzac Day blockbuster against the Roosters, a match Packer describes as a privilege to play in.

    “I played in this game last year and I played a number of Anzac Day games in Melbourne v Warriors and it’s such a special occasion for both our countries,” Packer said.

    “There’s a lot of history around the day and it’s a good way to honour our servicemen and to celebrate it with a big game between the Roosters versus Dragons. This time last year we were both towards the bottom of the ladder but this year it’s two teams in great form and it’s going to be a cracker.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4613768/frizell-pushing-teammates-rep-credentials/?cs=3713
     
  2. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    NRL 2017: Dragons prop Russell Packer out to end seven-year New Zealand Test team exile
    April 24, 201712:00pm

    THE traditional Anzac Day clash isn’t the only occasion on the rugby league calendar that Russell Packer wants to represent his country with pride.

    The St George Illawarra prop has set his sights on using the annual fixture to end a seven-year wait for a Kiwi jumper in the Test against Australia in less than a fortnight.

    The last time Packer was wearing black in 2011, Benji Marshall was the captain and Kevin Locke the fullback of a Kiwis side that were pumped 28-6 by England.

    But after helping propel the Dragons to the top of the NRL ladder, Packer is aiming to complete his redemption from jail inmate to Kiwi teammate.

    “I’ve represented my country before when I was 22 years old and I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as what I should’ve, looking back now as a 27-year- old,” Packer told AAP.

    “I’d love the opportunity to get another chance to be in that jersey and if they need me, I’d be more than willing to put my hand up.”


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    And he’ll have no better chance to impress Kiwis coach David Kidwell than in front of a packed house at Allianz Stadium against one of the competition’s heavyweights.

    He’ll come up against a heralded Roosters pack featuring fellow countryman and incumbent Kiwis prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, as well as the possible return of Dylan Napa from injury.

    Roosters youngster Latrell Mitchell is expected to be left out after appearing for feeder club Wyong Roos in NSW Cup on the weekend.

    Packer, who is averaging 95 metres in 44 minutes this season, credited his strong start to the year to the Dragons’ conditioning regimen.

    “It’s pretty evident — we’re all a lot fitter. I don’t think I’ve ever been this fit in my entire time in the league. Everyone’s lost weight under the new sports science guys here,” he said.

    Ben Ikin, Nathan Ryan and Ben Glover are joined by Rabbitohs GM of Football Shane Richardson to discuss the club’s plan to win their next premiership.

    You can also subscribe via iTunes or for Android users, listen on the iPP Podcast Player app.

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    Russell Packer (right) and Gareth Widdop (left) celebrate a try against the Cowboys.Source:AAP

    Packer’s form has also reportedly caught the eye of rival clubs, including the Wests Tigers, who are looking for a replacement for the likely departure of Aaron Woods.

    Packer said the faith the Dragons showed on his return from a one-year stint behind bars meant an extension was his first choice.

    “Hopefully we can get something done — my family’s settled here and it’s been a great club to me,” Packer said.

    STATS THAT MATTER * The Roosters’ 42-6 win in their most recent clash in round 24 last year equalled their biggest against the club, and the biggest loss by the Dragons last year.

    * The Dragons’ current average 27.3 points per game is the most in the joint venture’s history, and comes after averaging 14.2 per game last year — their lowest.

    * The 15 tries scored by the Dragons’ left edge is most in the league, and the 13 scored by the Roosters’ left edge is second.

    http://www.news.com.au/sport/nrl/dr...e/news-story/f1102e9a4bda68133f95132a29b346de
     
  3. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Paul Kent: What should the Dragons do with off-contract star Josh Dugan?
    PAUL KENT, The Daily Telegraph
    April 24, 2017 4:51pm
    PAUL McGregor was frustrated at last week’s Anzac Round announcement.

    His cheeks reddened and his words became clipped as the conversation veered from the Anzac Day belter against Sydney Roosters to internal matters, notably the retention of Josh Dugan.

    McGregor could have had a hammer, and he looked like he would have taken one if given the choice, and still he would not have been able to pound home the common sense management happening at the Dragons.

    Nearly a week later and still nobody is any closer to understanding the perfect sense McGregor attempted to make.

    McGregor, the coach, wants Dugan at fullback. He will wear No. 1 on Anzac Day.

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    Dugan will make his return from injury on Anzac Day.
    Dragons recruitment director Ian Millward considers Dugan a centre and wants to negotiate his new contract around what the best centres, but not the best fullbacks, command.

    Dugan understands this and so insists he is a fullback and not a centre. It makes economic sense.

    Millward, we know, will not budge on Dugan’s centre money. From where he sits, it also makes economic sense.

    On a very surface level it looked like McGregor and Millward could not agree and, this being rugby league, trouble was brewing.

    At this some tried to pick the seams of this relationship between coach and recruitment boss, as if it was unworkable.

    They cannot agree, heading for a bust-up. They can’t even agree on this simple task.

    Yet it makes complete sense.

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    McGregor has steered the Dragons to an excellent start to the season.
    For reasons nobody can explain there continues to be a right within the NRL that coaches should maintain control of their roster.

    It began many winters ago when Jack Gibson told a dozen committeemen they can feel free to continue wearing their blazers but they weren’t going to pick the team anymore.

    If he was going to survive by his results, Jack told them, then he picked the team. Five premierships later, nobody was arguing.

    Yet as often as it has been successful over the years, it has also met with devastating results.

    Some coaches, not up to the job, dig a hole and keep digging as they try to buy their way out of trouble, churning through players.

    Struggling coaches will recruit to survive their own short-term future instead of planning for the club’s long term future, ignoring areas like development.

    MONDAY BUNKER: Was it right to boo Woods?

    LOWDOWN: How did your team fare?

    They have paid more than a player is worth for reasons beyond performance, like needing to get angry fans of their back or their name out of the press. Or their football intelligence might simply not be what the club thought it was hiring.

    It’s possible.

    When clubs get their salary caps bent out of shape it can take them years to get competitive again. It is happening now.

    The pitfalls are many.

    Losing coaches are bad for the newspaper business and worse for the football business, so we don’t read about them until it is too late.

    As the money gets larger player recruitment is tougher than it ever was. The restraints of the salary cap, and the struggle to develop your own, mean choices have to be smarter and mistakes are less forgiving.

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    Coaching veteran Ian Millward controls the Dragons recruitment.
    Roster management is now a specialty area.

    Teams around the world realise this and gave away one-man operations years ago.

    Of the 32 teams in the NFL, only one head coach is also the general manager of football and that is New England’s Bill Belichick, perhaps the greatest coach in NFL history.

    Every major league baseball team has a general manager who not only tells the manager who he is coaching but also hires the coaching staff.

    In every case their job is to protect the long term success of the club, regardless of who coaches.

    That is Millward’s job, which he does.

    McGregor understands it and gets on with his job, which he is doing superbly.

    McGregor is not powerless in their conversations.

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    What will the Dragons do?
    He regularly tells Millward what he wants and Millward goes to the market looking to fill that hole at the right price.

    McGregor picks the best team available and, beyond coaching, has no problems with a player moping about not being respected because he is not paid enough — because he played no part in his contract negotiation.

    And here’s something else not being considered.

    What if it worked the old-fashioned way at the Dragons and they sign Dugan on fullback money with McGregor knee-deep in negotiations and Dugan goes away and plays strongly with Australia at the World Cup while Jai Field is away doing his weights over the summer and comes in ready for the No. 1 jersey.

    So McGregor opts to go with Field at fullback and Dugan at centre.

    Does Dugan give back the fullback money now he is playing centre?

    Unlikely.

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sp...n/news-story/b47edcad8ba8c69cd911070b0ac34744
     
  4. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Dugan, Frizell named in Kangaroos side
    Wed 26th April, 11:00AM
    A A

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    The Australian Rugby League Commission has selected the following players to represent the Australian Kangaroos in the 2017 Anzac Test, including St George Illawarra duo Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell.

    The 2017 Anzac Test match, against New Zealand at Canberra’s GIO Stadium on Friday, May 5, will be Australian Captain Cameron Smith’s 50th Test match, as well as his 27th as Captain.

    Smith will become just the second player to play 50 Test matches for Australia, behind Darren Lockyer (59), while he will also join Clive Churchill as Australia’s second most capped captain.

    "This is an incredibly important game for us, coming in a World Cup year," Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said.

    "Any Test match is important, but the fact this will be Cameron’s 50th Test match certainly adds some extra significance.

    "Cameron’s incredible milestones will form a significant part of our week."

    Meninga said that given the short preparation, he and Kangaroos selectors had looked to reward those who played in the successful Four Nations campaign in 2016.

    "Not only do these players have established combinations with each other, but they are also well aware of our values," Meninga said.

    "However the State of Origin series and then the remainder of the NRL Premiership will be major considerations when we look to name our squad for the World Cup later this year."

    The Kangaroos squad will assemble on Monday, May 1 in Canberra.

    Position

    Player

    NRL Club

    Junior Club

    Fullback

    Darius Boyd

    Brisbane Broncos

    Mudgeeraba Redbacks

    Wing

    Blake Ferguson

    Sydney Roosters

    Wellington Cowboys/Earlwood Saints

    Centre

    Josh Dugan

    St George Illawarra Dragons

    South Tuggeranong Knights/Valley Dragons

    Centre

    Will Chambers

    Melbourne Storm

    Nhulunbuy, NT

    Wing

    Valentine Holmes

    Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

    Western Lions/Townsville

    Five-Eighth

    Johnathan Thurston

    North Queensland Cowboys

    Souths Sunnybank

    Halfback

    Cooper Cronk

    Melbourne Storm

    Souths Acacia

    Prop

    Aaron Woods

    Wests Tigers

    Leichhardt Juniors

    Hooker

    Cameron Smith :copyright:

    Melbourne Storm

    Logan Brothers

    Prop

    David Klemmer

    Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

    All Saints Toongabbie

    Second Row

    Boyd Cordner

    Sydney Roosters

    Old Bar Pirates

    Second Row

    Matt Gillett

    Brisbane Broncos

    Bribie Island Warrigals

    Lock

    Trent Merrin

    Penrith Panthers

    Shellharbour Sharks

    Interchange

    Michael Morgan

    North Queensland Cowboys

    Townsville Brothers

    Interchange

    Josh Papalii

    Canberra Raiders

    Logan Brothers

    Interchange

    Tyson Frizell

    St George Illawarra Dragons

    Corrimal Cougars

    Interchange

    Sam Thaiday

    Brisbane Broncos

    Townsville Brothers

    18th man

    Shannon Boyd

    Canberra Raiders

    Cowra Magpies

    19th man

    James Maloney

    Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

    St Edwards, Gosford

    20th man

    Justin O’Neill

    North Queensland Cowboys

    Hughenden Hawks/Townsville Brothers

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/04/26/dugan_frizell_named_.html
     
  5. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Dugan discusses crucial conversion
    Wed 26th April, 03:00PM
    A A



    St George Illawarra fullback Josh Dugan speaks about his conversion that sent the traditional Anzac Day game against the Sydney Roosters into golden point extra time.

    Dugan also looks ahead to the Melbourne Storm, who the Dragons will play this Sunday at WIN Stadium, Wollongong for the Emergency Services Cup.

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/04/26/dugan_discusses_cruc.af_news.html
     
  6. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Paul McGregor proud of St George Illawarra Dragons players after Gareth Widdop injury
    Andrew Parkinson
    26 Apr 2017, 2 p.m.
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    Dragons captain Gareth Widdop hobbles off just before half-time on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

    When Gareth Widdop limped off two minutes before half-time yesterday you could have forgiven St George Illawarra for thinking it wasn’t their day.

    The Dragons captain, who has been in outstanding form to lead the club to the top of the NRL table, was again putting in a top class performance as he controlled much of the game from St George Illawarra’s left side against the Sydney Roosters in their traditional Anzac Day clash.

    But the 28-year-old, who signed a four-year contract extension with the club last week, was forced off with a medial ligament injury in his left knee. He failed to return and it is feared he could miss anywhere between two and six weeks.

    St George Illawarra’s head of athletic performance Nathan Pickworth said Widdop had suffered a “moderate to high grade” injury to his medial ligament and would undergo scans on Wednesday.

    St George Illawarra soldiered on without their skipper, coming from behind to force golden-point extra-time, only to be beaten by a clutch Mitchell Pearce field goal.

    Some coaches would look to make excuses. There wasn’t just the loss of Widdop but also fullback Josh Dugan to a head injury assessment late in the second half. And if Paul McGregor had wanted to make excuses few would have begrudged him.

    But he didn’t. McGregor was simply proud of his team. Because it was a measure of the spirit within this Dragons team. They are strong. And they do not quit.

    “I think it shows where we’re heading. That’s what it does show,” he said.

    “You don’t lose friends playing like that. Obviously there was a few circumstances in the game that unfolded but, as I spoke to the boys, we’re still in the learning part as a growing team. And it’s a bit of a lesson today at different stages. But certainly if you look at what we spoke about, mateship, courage and sacrifice and words like that, they did all that today.

    “We lost our fullback for a period. We lost our half for a period. It came down to golden-point. So I’m very proud.

    “I don’t want to make excuses on a day like today. As I said to the players they did what they could in the circumstances but we’ve got to learn from it, grow from it. And keep moving.”

    McGregor indicated it was unlikely Widdop would line up for England in their Test against Samoa at Campbelltown on May 6.

    The Dragons will need to bounce back quickly from the tough 13-12 extra-time loss. St George Illawarra face a five day turnaround from Tuesday’s clash with the Roosters to their top of the table showdown with Melbourne in Wollongong on Sunday afternoon.

    There are options for the Dragons to replace Widdop, highlighting the depth of their squad. Not only is there Kurt Mann but exciting youngster Jai Field waiting for an opportunity.

    “I don’t know how bad [Widdop’s knee] is just yet because it’s only fresh but it’s a medial so I don’t know the time frame on it,” McGregor said.

    “You’d have to say yes [he will miss the Test] at this stage. If he’s coming off with a knee, Gareth doesn’t like missing footy. Obviously coming off and not being able to run, he won’t be playing one wouldn’t think.

    “We’re a squad. That was the message. Whoever takes that position is ready. [Mann] knows our systems. There’s a good opportunity for Kurt to play a bit of half. Obviously you don’t replace Gareth Widdop but Kurt’s trained there before. He’s certainly a very capable NRL player and our squad is a squad. So we’re comfortable with whoever comes in and wears the number.”

    http://www.theleader.com.au/story/4...-dragons-players-after-widdop-injury/?cs=3833
     
  7. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    KICK-OFF: Dugan willing to own the big moments
    26 Apr 2017, 12:33 p.m.
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    COMETH THE MAN: Josh Dugan celebrates after nailing the conversion that sent the Dragons Anzac Day clash with the Roosters into golden point. Picture: Getty Images

    IS Josh Dugan worth a million dollars a season?

    It’s a question that’s still up for debate, but you certainly can’t accuse him of shying away from the clutch moments in a game. The last seven minutes of Tuesday’s Anzac Day clash were classic Dugan.

    After returning from an HIA for the final seven minutes, he put a short line drop-out out on the full, gifting the Roosters a six-point lead with four minutes left. It was an attempt at a big play that didn’t come off.

    It might have prompted a mentally weaker individual to go into their shell but when Nene MacDonald scored with 90 seconds left on the clock, Dugan couldn’t get his hands on the ball quick enough.

    He’s a casual goal-kicker, part-timer at best, but with regular kicker Gareth Widdop off the field, Dugan knew it fell to him. He didn’t need to wait around for instruction, or be jostled toward the waiting tee.

    In the press box, a media colleague asked Kickoff: “do you back him in.”

    Our answer: “Absolutely. But it doesn’t matter if I do or don’t, I can tell you for a fact that Duges is 100 per cent certain that it’s going through the posts.”

    He was right. They were two big moments, two very different outcomes, but the good players are willing to live and die by them.

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4622423/kick-off-dugan-loves-the-big-moment/?cs=302
     
  8. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    City-Country clash top priority for Dragons hopefuls

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    27 Apr 2017, 2 p.m.
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    FOCUSED: Cootamundra product Jack de Belin says playing for Country in the final City-Country clash would be a huge honour. Picture: Getty Images

    DRAGONS Origin hopeful Jack de Belin says it’s disappointing Canterbury’s City-Country snub has overshadowed the build up to what will be the final installment of the traditional clash at Mudgee in two weeks’ time.

    The Bulldogs have drawn widespread condemnation for their decision to pull their players from the contest, citing a short turnaround into their round 10 clash with North Queensland, with many calling on the NRL to force the club into a back down.

    ARLC chairman John Grant said on Wednesday that the NRL did not have the power to force the Bulldogs hand, with the decision likely to stand unchallenged.

    De Belin made what many considered a long overdue debut for Country last season, earning players’ player honours in a 44-30 defeat at Tamworth. The Cootamundra Bulldogs product missed the next five weeks with a torn rotator cuff but said he wouldn’t hesitate to pull on the jumper again this season.

    “It means a lot to me having grown up in the country and played my junior footy out there,” de Belin said.

    “I wouldn’t be standing here right now if it wasn’t for the Cootamundra Bulldogs. It was a great honour and, especially being the last year, I’d love to be a part of it again.”

    While he understands the Bulldogs concerns, de Belin said it will be a tough pill to swallow for some of the club’s rep aspirants.

    “I can see where they’re coming from but at the same time I can see the selfishness of it in terms of players wanting to earn a representative jumper or be able to further their careers,” de Belin said.

    “It’s probably holding some guys back a little bit but at the same time, club footy’s the number one priority. there’s a lot of different factors weighing into it so I’m not sure what the go is there.

    “You do risk injury and I suppose for coaches if players are sustaining injuries in a game where you’re not playing for the club it probably hurts a little bit more.

    “I missed a month last year because of my shoulder from that game but at the end of the day all the boys want to be playing in that game so you’ve got to let them.”

    De Belin’s Dragons teammates Paul Vaughan, Tariq Sims and Euan Aitken are all Country incumbents while Joel Thompson is also mounting a strong case for a recall and Cameron McInnes is in line for a City call-up.

    Five-time Country rep Sims said being part of the time-honoured fixture’s swansong would be a big honour.

    “I love playing for Country,” he said.

    “I’ve played in every game since coming into first grade, and being it’s the last year I’d love to be there again.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4624313/de-belin-sims-baffled-by-bulldogs-rep-snub/?cs=3713
     
  9. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Dragons players Tim Lafai and Siliva Havili spared conviction over drunken Wollongong brawl

    Angela Thompson@AngelaThomps0n

    27 Apr 2017, 12:10 p.m.

    St George Illawarra Dragons players Siliva Havili (left) and Tim Lafai (second from left) arriving at Wollongong Local Court on Thursday morning. Picture: Adam McLean

    A magistrate has opted not to convict two Dragons players over a drunken brawl outside a Wollongong nightclub last year, after the pair's QC reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

    Tim Lafai and Siliva Havili fronted Wollongong Local Court Thursday morning, each charged with affray and offensive conduct.

    They entered guilty pleas when charges were downgraded to common assault (Havili) and offensive conduct (Lafai).

    Representing both men, Greg James QC told the court a disagreement inside Atchison Street nightclub Fever had preceded an altercation on the street outside, in the early hours of Sunday July 24, which gave rise to the original charges.

    The men had played reserve grade football that Saturday, having been dropped from the Dragons that weekend. With teammates, the men went out for drinks afterwards, only to encounter "some degree of envy" inside Fever, Mr James said.

    "It appears there was some hostility to first grade players playing in lower competitions," he said. "The upshot of that was that Mr Havili was knocked over inside the bar, and later, when leaving the bar, possibly one of the persons involved [appeared] and from there it all blew up."

    Mr James suggested Lafai's role was limited to "running in as as second player".

    "He [Lafai] doesn't do anything of any substance to anybody," he said.

    Both men had been stood down for one match, fined by police and suffered negative publicity as a result of the incident - itself a form of punishment, Mr James told the court.

    He said Havili in particular had much to lose if convicted.

    "Their conviction would have dramatic consequences for both of them. Particularly; for Mr Havili, it exposes him to exta-curial punishment ... bearing in mind he's not an Australian citizen."

    He added that both men were unaccustomed to alcohol

    "They were in a foreign context and unable to cope."

    Magistrate Susan McGowan received character references for both men and heard both had a clean criminal history.

    She considered a set of police documents that had been amended to reflect the downgraded charges. She noted the police documents showed Havili had thrown a punch, but there was no mention of whether it connected.

    The plea agreement had spared the need for a two-day hearing.

    "Mr James has said these two men still have a future in front of them," the magistrate said. "[He says] their families still support them and that a conviction will do irreparable harm to their careers."

    "What bothers me is that they [Havili and Lafai] were waiting outside [the club]. They could have gone home."

    Mr James told the court the pair were not waiting with any "malicious intent".

    Magistrate McGowan encouraged the recently married Havili to spend more time with his wife instead of going out. She suggested Lafai keep his negative experience in his mind when he next went out drinking.

    "They single you out," she told him. "You have to use a little common sense."

    Both men were spared a conviction and placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond.

    The magistrate opted not make sobriety a condition of the men's bonds.

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/...viction-over-drunken-wollongong-brawl/?cs=298
     
  10. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Mann makes Dragons NRL halves switch to replace injured Widdop

    Tim Barrow@@TheBarrow

    27 Apr 2017, 2:37 p.m.


    DRAGONS coach Paul McGregor has launched the Kurt Mann Project 2.0, in a bid to cope with losing in-form captain Gareth Widdop for six weeks.

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    Switch: Kurt Mann. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Faced with the selection headache after the Anzac Day golden point loss to the Roosters, McGregor had the option to turn to young Jai Field or moving ball-playing forward Jack de Belin to replace Widdop.

    But he has instead entrusted Mann, who was dropped after two games at fullback last year and returned to score 10 tries in 11 games on the wing.

    Mann has played six games this year, including two on the wing, one at centre and three as a bench utility, spending time in the halves after Widdop was injured on Tuesday.

    [​IMG]
    Time out: Gareth Widdop limps along the sideline on Anzac Day. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Admitting Mann will be ‘learning on the run’, McGregor backed the 24-year-old to play a key role in maintaining St George Illawarra’s early-season momentum.

    “Kurt’s a quality NRL player and that’s the best thing about who we’re bringing into the side,” McGregor said.

    “He’s certainly a player the guys have got a lot of respect for and put a lot of trust in. His versatility right for the start (since joining the Dragons from Melbourne) has been great for the team.

    “He’s played fullback, he’s played left centre, he’s played on the wing, he played five-eighth on the weekend. He’s been a feature for us in different positions.” Conceding top spot on the NRL ladder to Melbourne after the Storm edged out the Warriors hours after St George Illawarra’s loss to the Roosters, McGregor is adamant they still have enough firepower without Widdop.

    “You know when you’re playing Melbourne, you get a very clinical team to play against, certainly they don’t give you too much,” McGregor said. “They’ve got to play us too though, we’re not going too bad on our own.

    “For us, it’s just about going out there and playing our brand of footy, our style has been good to us in this opening part of the season.” Widdop is the NRL’s leading pointscorer this year with 87, with six tries to his name.

    He suffered a medial ligament strain just before half-time in the 13-12 golden point loss to the Roosters, where Mitchell Pearce snapped the winning field goal.

    “He’s our captain, he’s our leader,” McGregor said.

    “He’s obviously got a skill level that other don’t and he’s at the top of his game, he’s playing the best football of his career. But, one down and another one steps in and Kurt will get that honour this weekend.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/...ves-switch-to-replace-injured-widdop/?cs=3713
     
  11. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Dragons look to the future, McGregor still in dark
    TIM BARROW
    28 Apr 2017, 1:15 p.m.


    There's not much more he can do in terms of performing on the field - Mark Coyne on Paul McGregor

    IF THERE is any movement within St George Illawarra’s corridors of power to offer Paul McGregor a contract extension, the coach himself is yet to know about it.

    [​IMG]
    Big push: Kurt Mann will take over from injured Dragons captain Gareth Widdop for the Sunday clash with Melbourne at WIN Stadium. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

    In the past two weeks, the club has had Mark Coyne, heading the ‘football performance committee’ installed in the off-season to help turn the team around, urge the club to get on with it.

    Then last weekend chief executive Peter Doust told Fairfax colleague Adam Pengilly “common sense would say we're starting to contemplate” an extension on McGregor’s contract.

    It was raised in this column last week to “back him or sack him”, or otherwise risk destabilising a campaign which could take the Dragons to the top four.

    Even in defeat on Anzac Day, the Dragons if anything enhanced their standing in the NRL, particularly given the way the players handled covering Josh Dugan and Gareth Widdop.

    "The team is obviously going outstanding this year and there's not much more he can do in terms of performing on the field,” Coyne said.

    “It's a call for the club on what is the right timing around re-signing; there are lots of things you need to factor in like where the players are sitting at, all those sorts of things.”

    And yet, after asking McGregor about his future during a press call at WIN Stadium on Thursday, the man himself seemed unsure what might happen next.

    His reply to the situation was a firm commitment to the playing group this season and how they’ve bought into the plan, after last year’s disappointment. The Mercury understands not everyone in the Dragons heirarchy is convinced about giving McGregor a long-term deal.

    It’s a tricky three weeks ahead for the Dragons, with Sunday’s date with Melbourne coming before the representative weekend bye, then another free weekend after playing the Sharks and Warriors.

    Dugan, Euan Aitken, Tim Lafai, Jason Nightingale, Russell Packer, Cameron McInness, Paul Vaughan, Tyson Frizell, Joel Thompson and Jack de Belin are all in representative consideration in one form or another.

    Dugan, Vaughan and Frizell, with an outside chance of de Belin, should be wearing Blues jumpers next month. With his own future uncertain, Dugan looks on a mission now to prove his worth to the Dragons and any other club.

    He certainly reminded everyone that he loves the big occasion, the way he nailed the levelling conversion in the second half against the Roosters, even though he offered the kick to Tim Lafai beforehand. But perhaps it is Kurt Mann who now has the most at stake for the Dragons.

    Back in December, after Drew Hutchison was cruelly felled by a season-ending ACL knee injury, this column raised the prospect of Mann moving into the halves to partner Gareth Widdop.

    Now with Widdop injured, Mann has first shot alongside Josh McCrone, leading the Dragons into the tricky State of Origin period.

    Mann has proven himself of NRL standard in the centres and on the wing.

    He will return there soon enough, but can prove his value and versatility to the Dragons, starting against his former team the Storm at WIN Stadium on Sunday.

    It’s hard to argue against Mann’s selection ahead of Jai Field or Shaun Nona, given the NRL experience he has.

    The next three games will not define the Dragons season, but it will have a big say in their top four hopes.

    Especially if they can overpower Melbourne and reclaim top spot on Sunday.

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/...to-the-future-mcgregor-still-in-dark/?cs=3713
     
  12. possm

    possm First Grade

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    I really hope Mann has a blinder on Sunday but it would be a real challenge against the competition leading Storm, his former club and his former coach. Up against the big 3 the Dragons forwards will have to be fresh and on their game.

    Mary will have to have a surprise plan developed to silence Smith, Cronk and Slater.
     
  13. mickeylane

    mickeylane Juniors

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    The biggest danger we have is Cameron Smiths short kicks behind our up and in defence ! If ever we are going to be exposed this is the game..
     
  14. possm

    possm First Grade

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    I really hope we have smashing Smith, Cronk and Slater in our game plan.
    Thompson to SMASH Cronk
    De Belin to SMASH Smith
    Aitken, Lafai and everyone else to SMASH Slater

    Not only a game winner, also an SOO winner.
     
    ALSGI likes this.
  15. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    19 Dragons picked for NRL Representative Round
    Mon 1st May, 02:00PM
    A A



    A whopping 19 St George Illawarra Dragons players have been picked to represent their respective teams in the NRL Representative Round this weekend.

    Dragons fullback Josh Dugan, back-rower Tyson Frizell (both Australia) will potentially line up against prop Russell Packer (New Zealand) – who has been named in the Kiwis' 20-man squad – in the annual Trans-Tasman Test in Canberra this Friday night.

    Earlier that afternoon in the nation's capital, three young Dragons – Blake Lawrie, Reece Robson and Jai Field – will play for the Junior Kangaroos against Junior Kiwis duo Patrick Herbert and Steven Marsters.

    Taane Milne (Fiji), Leeson Ah Mau, Tim Lafai (both Samoa) and Siliva Havili (Tonga) will all play at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in their respective Pacific Tests on Saturday.

    Meanwhile a trio of Dragons will represent both the City Origin and Country Origin teams when they do battle in Mudgee this Sunday afternoon.

    Tariq Sims, Paul Vaughan and Jack de Belin have been selected for Country, while Cameron McInnes, Jake Marketo and Hame Sele will play for City.

    Jacob Host will also act as City Origin's 18th man.

    Joel Thompson (Country Origin), Euan Aitken (Country Origin) and Nene Macdonald (PNG) have all unfortunately withdrawn from their respective teams but are in no doubt for the Round 10 clash against the Sharks.

    Dragons skipper Gareth Widdop was also ruled out to represent England due to his knee injury suffered on Anzac Day against the Roosters.

    Australia

    Josh Dugan

    Tyson Frizell

    New Zealand

    Russell Packer

    Junior Kangaroos

    Blake Lawrie

    Jai Field

    Reece Robson

    Junior Kiwis

    Patrick Herbert

    Steven Marsters

    Fiji

    Taane Milne

    Tonga

    Siliva Havili

    Samoa

    Tim Lafai

    Leeson Ah Mau

    City Origin

    Cameron McInnes

    Hame Sele

    Jake Marketo

    Jacob Host (18th man)

    Country Origin

    Tariq Sims

    Jack de Belin

    Paul Vaughan

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/05/01/_19_dragons_picked_f.html
     
  16. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Frizell’s belated Test focus

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    1 May 2017, 1:03 p.m.
    [​IMG]

    Tyson Frizell will now focus on Friday's Test after going down to Melbourne.

    STAND-IN St George Illawarra skipper Tyson Frizell said the fact he knew he had a Test jumper waiting for him was not a distraction in Sunday’s loss to Melbourne in which he captained the club for the first time in his 100th NRL game.

    Frizell retained his place in Mal Meninga’s 17 that lifted the Four Nations trophy last November alongside Josh Dugan, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk who all ran around on Sunday.

    New Zealand held off naming their side, that featured Dragons players Jason Nightingale and Russell Packer, until the conclusion of round nine but Frizell said being named just a day after the club’s Anzac Day game was not a worry.

    “No not at all” Frizell said when asked if it was a factor.

    “Having a short turnaround takes it out of whack a bit and you don’t really think about it too much. We had a big game [against Melbourne] and that was my main focus. It’s the same for anyone, getting picked early, it’s something you don’t really think about at all.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4631329/frizells-belated-test-focus/?cs=302
     
  17. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    ragons coach backs rep round amid selection chaos

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    1 May 2017, 5 p.m.
    [​IMG]

    CALL-UP: Tariq Sims will play his sixth City-Country clash after retaining his spot in the Country side on Monday. Picture: Getty Images

    ST GEORGE Illawarra coach Paul McGregor says he never considered pulling any of his players out of this weekend’s City-Country clash that has been marred by the decision of a number of clubs to pull their players from the contest.

    Dragons players Paul Vaughan and Jack de Belin retained their Country jumpers while Tariq Sims will make his sixth appearance for Country despite also named in the Fiji Bati squad. Euan Aitken and Joel Thomnpsons were withdrawn through injury. Hooker Cameron McInnes will play for City where he’ll directly oppose Souths hooker and Helensburgh junior Damien Cook, while Hame Sele and Jake Marketo also earned City call-ups.

    Bulldogs coach Des Hasler caused a storm of controversy when he conformed he wouldn’t allow his players to take part in the last hurrah for the traditional match is played, though he softened his stance slightly allowing Adam Elliot to be picked for Country.

    Canberra coach Ricky Stuart followed suit with no Raiders players selected for either side on Monday as City coach Brad Fitler was forced to delay the naming of his team for several hours as he scrambled to find 17 available players.

    McGregor is qualified speak after the Dragons played on the Thursday following last year’s match, that also cost his him key forward de Belin for five weeks through injury, but he said the benefits of rep football outweigh the negatives.

    “The boys will go away now and play some rep footy and I’m a coach who actually likes that,” McGregor said.

    “I think it’s great for them to maturity in the game and what they bring back from the rep round is important for the [Dragons] team.

    “It’s also a reward for how they’re playing so they’ll go away and enjoy the week and then we’ll get together with a five-day turnaround into Cronulla. It’s not easy, the calendar, but it is what it is.”

    The Dragons will have Tyson Frizell, Josh Dugan, Jason Nightingale and Russell Packer in action in Friday’s mid-season Test at GIO Stadium while Tim Lafai, Leeson Ah Mau will play for Samoa and Siliva Havili (Tonga) and Taane Milne (Fiji) will turn out for the Pacific Nations on Saturday.

    Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy also voiced a strong opinion on the rep round following his side’s victory over the Dragons on Sunday.

    “I think we’ve got 17 [players] involved in the rep round and that’s over half our squad,” Bellamy said.

    “At the end of the day I’m really happy for our guys to be playing rep footy but it does add a certain load to our players and to our club. I understand the other side if it, pulling guys out, but I’d never pull my guys out.

    “I wasn’t much of a player and never got to play rep footy and I would’ve loved to so I wouldn’t do that another player.

    “I’ve got no problem with the Bulldogs and the Raiders and what they’ve done, it’s their decision, the only little problem I have is that when they pull their players out, the clubs who let their players play have to pick up the burden.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4630449/rep-football-has-club-benefits-mcgregor/?cs=3713
     
  18. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    De Belin hopes Dragons' form boosts rep chances
    Tue 2nd May, 04:00PM
    A A



    By Chris Kennedy, NRL.com National Correspondent

    Dragons lock Jack de Belin is hoping his revamped attacking style plus his club's improved form combine to boost his hopes of a State of Origin debut off the back of what he hopes will be a strong performance for Country Origin in Mudgee on Sunday.

    The hard-working lock is on record – plenty of times – as saying he thinks his playing style is suited to the rep arena but after a strong 2016 has upped the ante this year.

    His average metres last year – 117 per game – are currently up at 131 per game. After producing 15 offloads in 21 games last year he has already easily surpassed that this year with 20 in just nine games.

    He has already doubled last year's try tally of one while markedly increasing his tackle busts from 1.4 per game to 2.6 per game.

    Speaking to NRL.com after being unveiled with his Country Origin teammates ahead of his second Country Origin jersey, de Belin doubled down on his determination to achieve Blues honours.

    "I've said it for a while, I feel like my game definitely translates to the rep arena," he said.

    Of his dramatically improved attacking game, he added: "Every year you try and increase certain aspects of your game and get more confident to be able to do that.

    "Every year I've developed more confidence and having a coach that allows you to play a bit more free-spirited which is the way I like to play definitely helps as well.

    "I suppose it's been building for a couple of years now, I've always been able to do it, it's more a matter of getting out there and doing it at this stage."

    It's not just de Belin's form that has improved; the Dragons themselves after being the second-worst attacking team of 2016 and missing the finals have started 2017 with a bang and are sitting on the most points scored – 225 – of any club after nine games.

    The second-placed Red V also have the best for-and-against of any team at this stage.

    De Belin hopes that improved overall club performance will help the likes of himself and fellow Country reps Paul Vaughan and Tariq Sims get noticed.

    "I think it helps a lot, you notice how much more media exposure and coverage you get when you're doing well," he said.

    "It's great to be able to represent Country with a few fellow Dragons and even [Dragons hooker] Cam McInnes in the City side. Credit goes to the boys for helping me get selected in this side."

    The Dragons pack has clicked as a unit, according to de Belin, which is evidenced by the fact they love playing for one another and are familiar with each other's styles.

    "We've all played with 'Vaughany' (2017 recruit Paul Vaughan) and Tariq (2016 mid-season recruit Tariq Sims) a lot now so I know what their games are like and what they're about and what suits them," he said.

    "Combinations are a big part of rugby league so when you play with someone and know their traits it helps a lot.

    "When you're playing with people you know well you get a lot of confidence from that and play a bit more free-flowing. I'd love to see any Dragons player in the State of Origin side."

    Despite a strong performance in his Country debut last year – scoring a powerful try despite the team going down 44-30 – de Belin said he had no idea where he sat in Blues coach Laurie Daley's plans.

    "I'd have thought last year I would have gone pretty close after a good performance for Country but you never know," he said.

    "You never know what the coaches are thinking or how they'll be picking their side, if it's based on size or impact off the bench.

    "There are a lot of good players putting their hands up so that's all I can do and hopefully keep playing good footy and that will take care of itself."

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/05/02/de_belin_hopes_drago.html
     
  19. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Packer blessed by Kiwis recall
    Tue 2nd May, 12:00PM
    A A



    St George Illawarra Dragons prop Russell Packer has discussed his selection in New Zealand's 20-man squad for the upcoming Test against the Kangaroos in Canberra this Friday.

    If selected, it will be the first time Packer has represented the Kiwis since 201

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/05/02/packer_blessed_by_ki.html
     
  20. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Sele shocked by City selection
    Tue 2nd May, 02:00PM
    A A



    St George Illawarra forward Hame Sele was blown away to learn of his selection in Brad Fittler's City Origin team, to play their Country counterparts in Mudgee this Sunday afternoon.

    After just four first grade games, Sele earned selection alongside fellow Dragons Cameron McInnes and Jake Marketo and was pumped to represent his junior club, the Kingsgrove Colts.

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/05/02/sele_shocked_by_city.html
     

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