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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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    Nightingale to fill Dugan void for Dragons

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    9 May 2017, 4 p.m.
    [​IMG]

    KEY MEN: Kurt Mann and Jason Knightingale. Picture: Chris Lane

    ST GEORGE Illawarra rake Cameron McInnes is confident his side can overcome the double-blow of being without both Gareth Widdop and Josh Dugan for Friday’s local derby clash with Cronulla.

    The Dragons will be without the star duo for at least three weeks with Widdop still recovering from a medial ligament injury and Dugan undergoing surgery on a fractured cheekbone suffered in last week’s Test – putting him in doubt for Origin I.

    Dugan missed two weeks with a hamstring strain earlier this year with the ever-reliable Jason Nightingale slotting seamlessly into the fullback role in two victories.

    As expected, the Kiwi test veteran was named in the No.1 jumper on Tuesday with Kurt Mann to play his second game at five-eighth as part of a new-look spine alongside McInnes and halfback Josh McCrone.

    The loss of their two chief attacking aces leaves Dragons fans wondering where the points will come from against the reigning premiers, but McInnes remains confident his side can get the job done without the pair.

    “When Jason Nightingale played fullback for those couple of games against Manly and North Queensland he played really well,” McInnes said.

    “He’s got so much experience and he runs the ball strong so he’ll do the job there. Obviously Duges is irreplaceable as a player, he’s a great player, but we’re comfortable that Gypsy will do the job.”

    McInnes also believes Mann will benefit from a longer preparation for the clash with the Sharks after having just one full session under his belt in the short Anzac Day turnaround leading into their round nine loss to Melbourne.

    “I thought Kurt Mann was really good against Melbourne,” McInnes said.

    “He brought some spark and he set up a couple of tries there. He had a great performance so if he can take that into the Cronulla game and we all do our job as well, then I’m sure we’ll be fine.

    “The more we play together as a spine, you’re obviously going to improve every time, so he’ll be more confident this week I’m sure. From a team standpoint we’ve got plenty of depth in this squad and plenty of great players so we’ll be sweet.”

    The Dragons tackled their way to a tight 16-10 win over the Sharks in round two, leaving their arch-rivals bent on revenge when they make the short trip to UOW Jubilee Oval on Friday night.

    The hosts will also be coming off consecutive losses for the first time this season and McInnes said his side need to bounce back from their humbling at the hands of the Storm.

    “Every game in the NRL’s a big game and obviously, being a local derby, this’ll be no different,” McInnes said.

    “It was a close game last time and we’re looking forward to a similar type of game this week. It’s going to be physical and a real grind for the 80 but that’s the way we like to play.

    “We obviously want to fix a few things up from the Melbourne game. We didn’t start well at all. We came home strong but a lot of sides can come home strong, it’s about how you start. That’s our focus and we’re confident if we put those things together the win will look after itself.”

    In other changes for the Dragons Taane Milne comes onto the wing and young-gun Jai Field was named on the interchange bench.

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4650318/nightingale-mann-form-new-look-spine/?cs=3713
     
  2. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Sele living life in the fast lane
    Wed 10th May, 12:00PM
    A A



    St George Illawarra forward Hame Sele would be the first Dragon to say that life comes at you fast, considering his rise to representative football over the past month.

    After just four first grade games, the 20-year-old was picked for Brad Fittler's City Origin side in their final clash against Country in Mudgee during the NRL Representative Round last weekend.

    The Kingsgrove Colts junior was blown away by the amount of media attention he received following confirmation he'd make his representative debut.

    It's a fair enough reaction too, considering he only made his NRL debut in Round 6 against the Sea Eagles.

    "I was really grateful that I was called up to play in the City Origin team," Sele said.

    "Everything has happened really fast for me lately. Obviously I've only played four NRL games and earned the representative call up so it's all going well.

    "I'm still taking it week by week though and hopefully the good things keep coming along."

    While people have questioned the validity of the City v Country clash in recent years, there's no question the benefits Sele's taste of representative football will have in the coming weeks.

    "The boys (City teammates) were really warm to me and helped me fit in because I'm usually pretty quiet. (City coach) Brad Fittler taught me a lot too," Sele said.

    "Paul Gallen was a really good leader which motivated me to keep going hard. James Tamou was good in that sense too.

    "It felt good to get the win. The game was really fast especially in the first 10 minutes. I was really feeling it out there," Sele added.

    "But it was good the boys kept turning up for one another in what was a pretty good game."

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/05/10/sele_living_life_in_.af_news.html
     
  3. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    McInnes in touching distance of maiden NSW jumper

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    10 May 2017, 12:35 p.m.
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    CONTENDER: Cameron McInnes. Picture: Adam McLean

    CAMERON McInnes insists that talk of a Stat of Origin debut has gone “over his head” but their are a growing number of punters willing to make the case for the St George Illawarra hooker following his impressive start to the season.

    Incumbent Blues No. 9 Robbie Farah’s indifferent start to 2017 combined with a lack of depth in the NSW hooking ranks has seen virtually any able-bodied rake eligible for NSW put in the ‘Origin bolter’ category.

    McInnes may well have moved himself out of that column and into the ‘contender’ category with an impressive rep debut for City on Sunday, winning his head-to-head duel with Country counterpart Damien Cook in a 20-10 victory.

    Penrith veteran Peter Wallace and Gold Coast hooker Nathan Peats are other contenders should Laurie Daley choose to usher in the post-Farah era for game one but McInnes continues to make a compelling case – in action if not words.

    I don’t really read the papers or anything like that so the Origin talk’s probably gone over my head a little bit but I guess we’ll see what happens,” McInnes said.

    “Obviously everybody wants to play in those sort of games but my focus when I came here was always on winning the number nine jersey for the Dragons and helping us win footy games.

    “That’s still the goal. Definitely if I’m given the opportunity [to play Origin] I’d love to have a crack at it but I’ll just take it as it comes.”

    In the face of mass withdrawals from the City-Country fixture, McInnes proved a beneficiary of Dragons coach Paul McGregor’s attitude of encouraging his players to earn rep jumpers with the likes of Jack de Belin and Paul Vaughan also mounting a strong case for maiden Blue jumpers.

    While there were certainly some battered bodies to come out of the clash, McInnes said being part of rep weekend has left his side recharged ahead of Friday local derby against Cronulla at Kogarah.

    “It was a good experience for myself and a couple of other Dragons boys who got to play,” McInnes said.

    “Mary just said put your best foot forward, play for yourself, your family, your country… whatever region you were representing and do yourself and the club proud.

    “It’s change of scenery and you get to see how players from other clubs do things and there were quite a few experienced guys in the side so to get to learn off them was good as well.

    “I learned a lot and was happy to come away with the win.”

    While the likes of McInnes, de Belin and Vaughan used the clash to press their Origin claims, the match also proved a huge boost for young-gun Hame Sele who earned a City call-up just four games into his first grade career.

    “I was pretty nervous before I went out there but I was really grateful I got the call-up to play in the City team and it felt good to get the win,” Sele said.

    “It all happened pretty fast, I’ve only played four NRL games and got a rep call-up but the week was really good. Freddie [coach Brad Fitler] was good teaching us a lot and was really calming influence as well.

    “Paul Gallen was a really great leader out there with his words and his actions and Jimmy Tamou was really good as well so it was a great experience to be around those type of players.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4652980/mcinnes-forced-way-into-origin-contention/?cs=3713
     
  4. Divine

    Divine Bench

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    who's Frank McInnes?
     
  5. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Rose visits Dragons ahead of Indigenous Round
    Wed 10th May, 03:00PM
    A A



    NRL Community and Engagement Ambassador and former Dragons prop George Rose visited training this week to chat to the team about all things Indigenous Round ahead of the Cronulla Sharks clash on Friday night.

    Dragons TV were lucky enough to have a quick chat with Rose about the importance of the NRL Indigenous Round and how important back-rower Joel Thompson is among the NRL's Indigenous community.

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/05/10/rose_visits_dragons_.html
     
  6. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    McGregor playing the long game on representative football

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    11 May 2017, 4 p.m.
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    GOOD COMPANY: Prop Paul Vaughan was one of several Dragons stars to produce strong performances over the rep weekend. Picture: Getty Images

    ST GEORGE Illawarra coach Paul McGregor is expecting a long-term return on his decision to embrace representative football after several of his stars produced impressive performances over the rep round.

    The Dragons initially had a staggering 19 players selected across all matches including four players in Sunday’s City-Country clash. The weekend will cost the club star fullback Josh Dugan for three weeks after he fractured his cheekbone playing for Australia last Friday night.

    City-Country also saw Jack de Belin miss five weeks with a shoulder injury last year with that potential high price seeing the likes of Des Hasler and Ricky Stuart pull their players from the rep fixtures this season,

    Representative football may yet take a further toll with the likes of Cameron McInnes, Paul Vaughan and Jack de Belin all mounting a case to join incumbents Tyson Frizell and Dugan in the NSW line-up.

    It could mean his side is running on some heavy legs over the latter half of the season but McGregor said it’s ultimately the club that benefits in time.

    “Certainly it’s not the instant success or benefit you get from it, you get it over a period of time,’ McGregor said.

    “It’s a reward for how the team’s playing. That’s number one and then you get your personal rewards from that. I’m not going to stand in someone’s way where they want to further their career through a representative jumper.

    “For the guys who get to go back and represent Samoa and Tonga and their nations and their heritage it’s a very proud moment for them so to take that away from them is not fair.I thought the boys involved played really well throughout the weekend. It’s certainly good to have them back at training with one casualty [Dugan] but we do play a collision sport so that’s going to happen.

    “Those guys who went well that are in line for a NSW jumper, they get another chance to perform Friday night against Cronulla on the big stage. It’s a chance to show the selectors and everyone involved in State of Origin just how good they are against a quality football team.”

    The Dragons will be looking to halt a mini-slide of two straight losses when they host the Sharks on Friday. The defending premiers are no doubt still smarting from a 16-10 loss inflicted on home soil in round three but McGregor is more focused a return to the standards that took his side to the top of the competition.

    “Obviously my job is about winning and losing, and I accept that, but for the players it’s about the process and how well they prepare to play,” McGregor said.

    “Once we get out there it’s all about [meeting] our standards around our effort. It’s always a nice tight contest [against the Sharks], very physical. They’re a talented squad, a really experienced squad and they like to spoil and play a really bullish game to frustrate you.

    “We’ve just got to keep to our game, no distractions, play Dragons footy together and rise above some setbacks that we’ve had.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4655544/rep-footy-brings-long-term-return-mcgregor/?cs=3713
     
  7. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Euan Aitken injury update
    Fri 12th May, 09:00PM
    A A

    [​IMG]

    St George Illawarra Head of Athletic Performance Nathan Pickworth has provided the following update in regards to Euan Aitken following the Dragons' 18-14 loss to the Sharks on Friday night.

    "Euan suffered a hamstring strain in the first half against the Sharks. He'll have scans and we'll have a prognosis from them," Pickworth said.

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/05/12/euan_aitken_injury_u.html
     
  8. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor frustrated with refereeing decisions that cost Dragons in 18-14 derby loss to Cronulla Sharks
    Andrew Parkinson
    12 May 2017, 11 p.m.
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    Strong: Dragons forward Tyson Frizell was among St George Illawarra's best. Picture: John Veage

    St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor refused to blame match officials for his side’s enthralling 18-14 defeat to fierce local rivals Cronulla on Friday night.

    The depleted Dragons, without captain Gareth Widdop and star fullback Josh Dugan, put in a statistically almost perfect performance at Kogarah against their neighbours from the shire but were edged out in a see-sawing contest.

    St George Illawarra completed 93 per cent of their sets and made only four errors. They dominated through the middle, took the lead into half-time and were in front going into the final 10 minutes.

    But a number of questionable decisions went against the Dragons. The most damaging were two decisions that led to both of Cronulla’s second half tries.

    The first, a Ricky Leutele pass that looked to go forward for a Sosaia Feki try in the corner. The second, a Wade Graham knock on in the play the ball that led to Feki’s second and the match-winner.

    McGregor chose not to use the decisions as excuses but admitted to feeling frustrated.

    “The last two weeks I spoke to Tony [Archer] about decisions and I think 11 out of the 19 I sent away were incorrect [decisions],” he said.

    “You could all see the decisions tonight. Some were pretty tough. You usually get your 50-50s throughout the year and I’m not going to use it as an excuse but the last three weeks have been pretty tough.

    “They’re human so they’re going to make bad decisions or wrong calls. That’s just part of the game. When it costs you a result it hurts. Players make errors and coaches make errors and referees make errors. It’s consecutive weeks, so you’d like your luck to go your way now and again.”

    As well as being without Widdop and Dugan, St George Illawarra lost dynamic centre Euan Aitken to a potentially serious hamstring injury. Aitken had a problem with his hamstring which kept him out of the City-Country game last weekend and was forced off after 20 minutes against Cronulla.

    It was the Dragons’ third defeat in a row after tough losses to heavyweights the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne. They could slip outside the top four if results go against them this weekend.

    They had plenty of stars. Paul Vaughan was outstanding in an all-round impressive display from the Dragons’ pack. Tyson Frizell, Joel Thompson, Russell Packer and Jack de Belin were all strong.

    And McGregor, and their fans, will be heartened the resilience they showed.

    Including the rep weekend, most of the Dragons players had played four games in 19 days. In McGregor’s own words, they need this weekend off.

    “There’s improvement in our footy team as well and we’re building,” he said.

    “We’re not there yet. Cronulla and Melbourne in the last two games, obviously they were in last year’s grand final. We’ve got some work to do but the boys are willing to put the hard work in during the week so they can go out and play the type of footy you saw tonight.”

    http://www.theleader.com.au/story/4...ions-that-cost-dragons-in-derby-loss/?cs=3833
     
  9. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Touch call proves costly for Dragons in derby epic

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    12 May 2017, 5:39 p.m.


    ST GEORGE Illawarra slumped to a third straight loss, but they would’ve lost no fans doing it, going down 18-14 to arch-rivals Cronulla in an epic local derby on Friday.

    [​IMG]
    POWERHOUSE: Paul Vaughan. Picture: Getty Images

    With Gareth Widdop and Josh Dugan both sidelined through injury, the Dragons led by two at halftime and again with 17 minutes remaining only for the Sharks tor triumph through a second-half double Sosaia Feki.

    It wasn’t without controversy with Feki’s first try in the 51st minute appearing to come off a blatant forward pass from Ricky Leutele. Feki’s second to re-take the lead with eight minutes remaining was also sent to the bunker, but it proved enough to seal the win for the visitors.

    In a four-point ball-game, Dragons coach Paul McGregor admitted the no-call was a tough pill to swallow.

    “It was a forward pass,” McGregor said of Feki’s second try.

    “It’s frustrating, the last two weeks I’ve spoken to [referees boss] Tony [Archer] about decisions and I think 11 of the 19 I sent away were [judged] incorrect.

    “Tonight you could all see some of the decisions… some of them were pretty tough.

    “You get your 50-50’s throughout the year, and I’m not going to use it as an excuse, but the last three weeks have been pretty tough.

    “[Referees] are human so they’re going to make bad decisions or wrong calls that’s just part of the game. We’ve just had consecutive weeks and you’d like have luck go your way every now and again.

    “When it costs you a result it hurts but they’re like players. It’s my job to look after wins and losses not the players, it’s the players’ job to go out there and take a really good attitude to the game and bring their best effort. They’re doing that every week so they’re hurting now.”

    The match would’ve been pleasant viewing for NSW coach Laurie Daley with Wade Graham and Jack Bird outstanding for the visitors, while selectors must surely be measuring up Dragons prop Paul Vaughan for a maiden Blues jumper.

    The 26-year-old produced a powerhouse first half, bagging his side’s first four-pointer to go with 108 run-metres in the opening stanza, and laid on the 61st minute go-ahead try for fellow book-end Russell Packer.

    He finished with a staggering 191 metres for the match while Jack de Belin was also outstanding for the hosts with 111 run metres and 30 tackles in the middle of the park.

    The loss was soured further for the hosts with Euan Aitken coming from the field with a serious hamstring injury in the 23rd minute with McGregor confirming he’ll be sidelines at least until after the round 12 bye.

    Tim Lafai opened the scoring in the 21st minute before Leutele crossed with Maloney adding the extras for a 6-2 lead.

    Vaughan hit back with close-range effort off a deft short-ball from Cameron McInnes to take an 8-6 lead into the break.

    The Sharks struck first after the resumption with replays of Leutele’s final pass for Feki’s first try leaving the 15,927-strong home crowd fuming.

    Maloney’s conversion gave the Sharks a four-point Vaughan’s magic off-load for Packer’s try saw the Dragons take a 14-12 lead with 17 minutes to play before Feki’s second try off a Maloney kick with eight minutes left on the clock ultimately proved the match-winner.

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4659237/forward-pass-howler-costs-dragons/?cs=3713
     
  10. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Illawarra return to the winners circle
    Mon 15th May, 10:00AM
    A A

    [​IMG]

    Illawarra have recorded a comprehensive 32-12 victory over the Wentworthville Magpies at Ringrose Park on Sunday.

    Illawarra dealt the first blow in the opening exchanges, when fullback Matt Dufty raced out wide from the scrum to score after four minutes.

    Dufty found himself in the action again a short while later playing a hand in his sides the try, laying on a beautiful pass for mid-season recruit John Tohi to score in the corner.

    Jacob Host barged over from short range for the scarlet and whites third try of the half before Wenty responded through Daniel Howard, to narrow Illawarra’s half-time lead to 14-6.

    Illawarra continued their strong momentum immediately in the second half when interchange forward Jacob Hind pushed off defenders and raced away to score his second career try in the Intrust Super Premiership.

    Debutant Rob Buaserau followed suit crossing out wide moments later to extend the visitors lead, before Wentworthville prop Rory O’Brien found his way to the line to keep his side in the game.

    Josh Kerr rounded out the scoring in the shadows of full-time as Illawarra finished up 20-point victors.

    Illawarra 32 (Matt Dufty, John Tohi, Jacob Host, Jacob Hind, Rob Buaseru, Josh Kerr tries; Shaun Nona 4 goals) defeated Wentworthville Magpies 12 (Daniel Howard, Rory O'Brien tries; Jamal Fogarty 2 goals) at Ringrose Park, Wentworthville. Half-time: Illawarra 14-6.

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/05/15/illawarra_return_to_.html
     
  11. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Vaughan extends Dragons contract
    Tue 16th May, 10:30AM
    A A



    St George Illawarra have announced that Paul Vaughan has extended his stay at the Dragons until the end of the 2021 NRL Telstra Premiership season.

    Vaughan has played every game for the Dragons since joining at the beginning of the year, having played 95 games in the NRL overall.

    The Italian international's strong season so far has seen him play for the NRL All Stars and Country Origin, while he remains in contention to play State of Origin for New South Wales in the coming weeks.

    The 26-year-old said re-signing so soon after joining the Dragons has done wonders for his confidence.

    "At the start of the season I wanted to start afresh and prove myself all over again. That was one of the biggest things I needed to do," Vaughan said.

    "I think I'm halfway to doing that – I just need to keep playing consistent football.

    "I've always said I wanted to stay here for as long as I can so with this deal I won't be off-contract again until I'm in my 30s."

    St George Illawarra Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward said Vaughan's extension was crucial for future success.

    "We've identified him as a future leader and we've also been impressed by the way he's integrated and interacted with the younger forwards," Millward said.

    "Paul has been a tremendous acquisition to the Dragons. By re-signing him, it was a good opportunity to get stability in our forward pack and have that platform there for our halves."

    Vaughan's re-signing is an additional positive for the Dragons following Russell Packer's decision to take up a four-year deal at another NRL club from next season.

    Millward said the Dragons' decision not to match the four-year deal was largely due to the younger players coming through the club’s development pathways.

    Vaughan's decision to remain follows the likes of Jack de Belin, Jacob Host, Blake Lawrie, Reece Robson, Luciano Leilua and Tyson Frizell re-signing with the Dragons in recent months.

    They will be joined by Tariq Sims, Hame Sele, Josh Kerr, Leeson Ah Mau, Cameron McInnes and Joel Thompson at the Dragons beyond the 2017 season.

    "We were definitely keen to keep Russell, he is having a great season and is a great contributor to our club," Millward said.

    "We believe that we made him a good three year offer but respect and understand his decision to take up an offer elsewhere, and know that he'll give his best for the remainder of the season."

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/05/16/vaughan_extends_drag.html
     
  12. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Vaughan looking to press Origin claims against Warriors

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    16 May 2017, 3 p.m.
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    IN CONTENTION: Dragons prop Paul Vaughan will get his final chance to press his Origin claims against the Warriors on Friday. Picture: Getty Images

    A STATE of Origin debut, or cocktails on Waikiki Beach.

    It’s a conundrum some wouldn’t consider a conundrum at all but it’s the one facing in-form Dragons prop Paul Vaughan who’s firming for a maiden Blues jumper with each passing week.

    Vaughan produced a mighty individual performance in a tense 18-14 loss to Cronulla last week with plenty of punters already penciling for Origin I on May 31.

    The problem is, Vaughan is due to be a groomsmen at best mate Anthony Onorato’s wedding in Hawaii that week, an event specifically set down to coincide with the Dragons round 12 bye.

    It amounts to a win-win situation for Vaughan who will have his last chance to push his claims for selection for Origin I against the Warriors on Friday.

    “I’ve got my mate’s wedding over in Hawaii that week so I’ve actually booked flights to go to Hawaii,” Vaughan said.

    “He’s one of my best mates from down in Canberra. I’m one of his groomsmen but if it does happen and I do get picked he obviously understands so that’s good.

    “We’ll have to wait and see. If I don’t get picked I’ll be disappointed but I’ll be Hawaii so it won’t be too bad. Either situation’s pretty good for me.

    “I think every football player wants to play at the highest level and that is the highest level, State of Origin, so I’d love to be involved in it. Friday’s obviously my last chance to press my claims and I’ll be doing that and playing the best football I can.”

    It’s a welcome headache for a man with very few of them these days having found career-best form since shifting to the Dragons from Canberra this season.

    The 26-year-old has also inked a two-year contract extension that will keep him at the Dragons until the end of the 2021 season after approaching the club to extend the deal that already had him locked down until the end of 2019.

    “I love the club and I really like the direction it’s going in, there’s going to be a bright future here and I want to be a part of it,” Vaughan said.

    “We initially signed a three-year deal when I first came up and I just asked my manager if it was possible to sign an extension for a couple more years.

    “Obviously the team’s been playing pretty well and everyone’s in a pretty good mood so I thought if I put an extension forward that they might be happy to accept it and they have.

    “They put their confidence in me and it’s about repaying that faith that the club put in me. It’s good to have that security, me and my partner are going to start a family soon so I’m just looking after myself and my family.”

    Having found top form under Paul McGregor, Vaughan said he hopes his coach, currently un-signed beyond 2017, will follow suit in the near future.

    “Mary’s been unreal for me since I first came up here and I’m hoping he can stay here for as long as possible,” Vaughan said.

    “Hopefully that gets sorted out soon and I’m just excited to stay here for the amount of time that I am.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4666103/vaughan-torn-over-possible-origin-debut/?cs=3713
     
  13. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Packer to join Tigers as Vaughan signs long-term Dragons deal

    Tim Barrow@@TheBarrow

    16 May 2017, 9:41 a.m.
    [​IMG]

    On the move: Russell Packer. Picture: Getty Images

    KIWI international Russell Packer has signed a four-year deal to join Wests Tigers, it was announced on Tuesday.

    The move comes less than two years after Packer was offered an NRL lifeline by St George Illawarra, after being released from jail.

    Packer spent 12 months in prison for an assault and had been threatened with deportation, then denied a return to playing NRL in 2015, finally making his debut last season.

    However, the Dragons were under significant salary cap pressure, after signing Brisbane playmaker Ben Hunt next season, as well as retaining captain Gareth Widdop.

    The Tigers came to Packer with a lucrative offer worth about $2 million for four years, the club cashed up after Mitchell Moses, James Tedesco and Aaron Woods announced they would leave at the end of the year.

    "Russell has been one of the standout front-rowers in the NRL this season,” Tigers coach Ivan Cleary said.

    “He’s a no-nonsense front rower, he really knows what his job is and he delivers and I think he’s only going to get better.

    “I think he’s going to have a very strong leadership role here.

    “He’s got a great story, a story of hard knocks and coming out the other side, and that will resonate with lots of the boys here.

    “He’s very keen to help us regrow what we have here at Wests Tigers, and they’re the sort of guys we want on board.”

    However, an hour after the Tigers announced Packer’s exit, the Dragons revealed teammate Paul Vaughan will stay in Wollongong until at least 2021.

    Vaughan – who is squarely in NSW State of Origin contention – is arguably the signing of the season, after moving to from Canberra.

    "At the start of the season I wanted to start afresh and prove myself all over again. That was one of the biggest things I needed to do," Vaughan said.

    “I think I'm halfway to doing that – I just need to keep playing consistent football.

    “I've always said I wanted to stay here for as long as I can so with this deal I won't be off-contract again until I'm in my 30s.”
     
  14. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Dragons extend partnership with UOW
    Wed 17th May, 02:00PM
    A A

    [​IMG]

    The St George Illawarra Dragons and University of Wollongong have announced an extension of their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), where their longstanding partnership will extend until at least 2020.

    The partnership provides for a range of joint initiatives of mutual benefit and for the community including a program within the St George district focused on inspiring school students to become leaders, set long term education and career goals, discover pathways to achieve them, develop study skills and build resilience to overcome challenges.

    The Dragons and UOW initially formalised their association in 2009, committing under a MoU to collaboratively pursue positive outcomes for both organisations regarding research, scholarships, community programs, internships, promotions and facility use.

    UOW Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Wellings CBE said the partnership would continue to open doors for collaboration and engagement within the wider community.

    "The collaboration between our two organisations has increased over the years and this extension of the agreement opens further opportunities. Not just for the Dragons and UOW, but also for the wider community," he said.

    "We work closely to deliver a comprehensive range of programs and resources for primary and secondary schools across our communities, particularly through UOW’s Kids In2Uni initiative. We are thankful that players and staff have made themselves available for appearances as part of our mutual programs.

    "By extending our partnership with the St George Illawarra Dragons we are reaffirming our commitment to this great club and to our shared objectives and I look forward to seeing how much more we can do together for the wider community in coming years."

    St George Illawarra Chairman Brian Johnston said the successful and proud history between the Dragons and UOW can only lead to continued positive outcomes moving forward.

    "We are very proud to continue our formal association with the University of Wollongong, this extension is a significant positive for our organisation and the local community," said Johnston.

    "Having worked cooperatively together across a range of areas since 2009, the new MoU enables us to strengthen and further develop the opportunities and potential of the partnership for all involved.

    "The outcomes to date have been extremely positive and we are excited about the future together with UOW."

    The Dragons currently have 17 players enrolled at the University studying a broad range of degrees as part of the acclaimed Graduates of League (GOL) program. The GOL program was established in 2012 as a way to increase the university entry, retention and completion rates of elite athletes and professional sports people.

    The program provides athletes with support from the university as they balance rigorous training schedules and travel commitments with tertiary studies.

    Over the past five years, the UOW GOL program has supported 63 student-athletes, employed 81 students as peer mentors and had 10 graduations (with eight more expected in 2017).

    In 2017 UOW also welcomed the first postgraduate GOL student, Dragons international prop, Russell Packer.

    "The Graduates of League program provides a powerful support network that ensures NRL players reach their academic goals while still playing and training full time," Professor Wellings said.

    "At UOW, we are proud to be able to support our Dragons partners in their studies to set them on course for a career after rugby league."

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/05/17/dragons_extend_partn.html
     
  15. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Steelers and Dragons meet again 25 years after preliminary battle

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    17 May 2017, 12:57 p.m.
    [​IMG]

    Paul McGregor during the 1992 NSWRL season

    THE Illawarra Rugby League’s annual sportsman’s lunch promised to be an interesting one this year with members of both the Illawarra Steelers and St George sides that fought out a tough 1992 preliminary final won 4-0 by the Dragons.

    Ricky Walford scored the lone try that day, though rusted on Steelers still claim they got across three times only to be denied by referee Greg McCallum.

    Kick-off has been told McCallum will also bravely attend to wear some flak that has barely waned in the 25 years since that day at the SFS.

    Current Dragons coach Paul McGregor was a member of that Illawarra line-up that day as were the likes of Rod Wishart, David Riolo, John Simon, Neil Piccinelli and John Cross under the coaching of Graham Murray.

    Current Dragons NYC side Wayne Collins lined up at hooker for the Dragons side coached by Brian Smith. Tables of 10 for the June 16 function are available for $100 per person from Steelers Club reception.

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4668924/kick-off-steelers-dragons-to-meet-again/?cs=3713
     
  16. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Youth a necessary gamble for Blues

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    17 May 2017, 9:38 a.m.
    [​IMG]

    IN CONTENTION: Dragons prop Paul Vaughan is making a strong case for an Origin debut this season. Picture: Sylvia Liber

    PAUL Vaughan’s selection for Origin I is an absolute must for NSW.

    The fact it is apparently unlikely is a fine illustration of the Blues inherent vice over the last decade – one series win out of 11 if anyone has forgotten.

    It seems the only people who do seem to forget, over and over again, are Blues selectors who have made a habit of thinking themselves into a corner.

    Origin is a strange beast. Players seemingly destined for it find it too much while others, who seem lucky to set foot on that stage, thrive. The fact is you just never know.

    They’re the two sides of a coin coach Laurie Daley does not want to have to flip too many times on one night – particularly in a game one at Suncorp Stadium.

    On it’s own merits, pick-and-stick is not an entirely flawed concept. Coaches will show disloyalty for form or ignore form out of loyalty, one being the justification of the other.

    However, recent history shows that gambles on youth have paid off. Vaughan’s Dragons teammate Tyson Frizell floated around the edge of selection for a number of seasons with Daley questioning whether he was ready for Origin.

    Was he ready? He was NSW’s best player in the two games he played last season after being overlooked for game one (and several games in years before that).

    The performances of James Tedesco and Wade Graham in Origin III last season, and Jack Bird’s performance across the three games, shows there is something to be said for – borderline arrogant – young bulls who aren’t carrying the baggage of past defeats.

    A pick and stick policy has been a no-brainer for Queensland. They’ve won 10 of the last 11 series anchored by five players chasing immortals status, but they have shown a willingness to go all-in in the past.

    In game one of the 2001 series, the Maroons named 10 debutants that shocked NSW 34-16 – the game where Carl Webb skittled six defenders for a crucial try on halftime.

    In game one 2004, they threw a former track work jockey named Billy Slater on the wing. The following season they put in a skinny Canterbury discard named Jonathan Thurston.

    Sure, it’s hindsight that tells us how that turned out, but back then? Well… ya just didn’t know.

    In reality, there are only be a mere handful of players who should be considered walk-up starts for the Blues. With a typical 17 normally featuring six middle forwards, there certainly aren’t enough of those to keep the form front-rower of the competition out.

    Vaughan’s individual performance against Cronulla last week was among the best Kickoff has witnessed from a front-rower. It was not a fluke, he’s sitting second in Dally M Voting.

    He should be there for game one. If he’s not, we’ll know whether NSW are going all-in on the nose, or each-way as the second-place tickets pile up.

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/...ans-compelling-case-for-blues-jumper/?cs=3713
     
  17. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Aitken injury not typical

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    19 May 2017, 2:57 p.m.
    [​IMG]

    Euan Aitken comes from the field in the Dragons 18-14 loss to Cronulla

    DRAGONS head of athletic performance Nathan Pickworth admits the clubs has had to seek independent advice on what is a far from typical hamstring injury to centre Euan Aitken.

    Aitken came from the field midway through the first half of his side’s 18-14 loss to Cronulla last week.

    He’s now facing an extended stint on the sidelines with what’s been described as a hamstring tendon injury.

    “Euan suffered a hamstring injury against the Sharks and obviously didn’t finish the game,” Pickworth said.

    “Scans over the weekend showed a decent tendon injury which is a little bit unusual so we’re still going through the process of establishing the best course of action and prognosis.

    “We’re consulting a few different hamstring experts both in physiotherapy and rehab training so the return to play time frame for is still a bit unknown at the moment.

    “Clinically he’s not looking to bad so hopefully he’s back on the field sooner rather than later.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4674360/aitken-injury-not-typical/?cs=3713
     
  18. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Illawarra lift to retain Tom Kirk Cup
    Sun 21st May, 12:00PM
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    [​IMG]

    Illawarra recorded a remarkable 38-34 come from behind victory over the Newton Jets at Henson Park on Saturday.

    There were worrying signs for the visitors early, with the Jets running in three tries in just fifteen minutes through James Ramien and James Tuitahi who bagged a first-half double.

    Illawarra finally awoke from their slumber ahead of the twentieth minute with form prop Josh Kerr barging his way over the line from close range, before the hosts hit straight back through Matt Evans.

    A four hour plane ride from across the dip the morning of the game didn’t seem to phase Illawarra’s Jacob Host who scored a try from a scrum play underneath the sticks to shift momentum in favour of the red and whites.

    Mid-season recruit John Tohi continued to show his worth when he collected a neat kick from centre Jesse Dee to score in the corner in the shadows of half-time, narrowing the half-time deficit to 22-16.

    The home side were first to trouble the scorers in the second stanza with Edrick Lee planting the ball down to extend the Jet’s lead, before Illawarra’s Pat Herbert matched Lee’s efforts to again get his side back into the contest.

    Moments later, Adam Clune collected a high ball from halves partner Shaun Nona, racing away to score and give Illawarra the lead for the first time in the contest.

    Clune found himself in the action again putting the ever improving Matt Dufty through a gap with a mouth-watering inside ball, with the fullback dancing around defenders before scoring underneath the posts.

    Gerringong Lions Junior Reuben Garrick joined the scorers party late in the game, crossing for his first try in the Intrust Super Premiership, before Newtown’s Lee pulled a rabbit out of the hat when he chipped over Illawarra defenders, regathering, before linking up with Manaia Cherrington to set-up a grandstand finish for the locals.

    Illawarra were able to diffuse a final crossfield effort by the Jets on the buzzer to secure a thrilling 38-34 victory, retaining the Tom Kirk Cup.

    http://www.dragons.com.au/news/2017/05/21/illawarra_lift_to_re.html
     
  19. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    Dragons Origin hopefuls press claims

    Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

    21 May 2017, 3:07 p.m.
    [​IMG]

    CONTENDERS: Paul Vaughan and Jack de Belin. Picture: Sylvia Liber

    THE bye may well have come at the right time for St George Illawarra with Dragons coach Paul McGregor suspecting the club could lose more than just incumbents Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell to State of Origin duty.

    Dugan’s decision to depart the Dragons for Cronulla at season’s end is an interesting sub-plot to the unveiling the Blues line-up on Monday where he is expected to retain his right centre spot.

    It’s also where Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has indicated he will play Dugan at the Sharks despite a stand-off with recruitment chief Ian Millward over his positional future reportedly playing a large part in his departure from the Dragons.

    Dugan has had a plate inserted in the cheekbone he fractured playing for Australia earlier this month but is still expected to be named on Monday while Tyson Frizell is also tipped to keep his jumper despite a wealth of back-row talent on offer to selectors.

    They are not the only Dragons in contention with Paul Vaughan, Jack de Belin and Cameron McInnes all pressing their claims over the opening 11 rounds of the season.

    Vaughan may have to change plans to fly to Hawaii this week for a mate’s wedding after his performance against the Warriors on Friday.

    The 26-year-old, currently sitting second in Dally M voting, ran for 216 metres from 20 carries and made 24 tackles in just 47 minutes on the paddock.

    De Belin has also been in career-best form though he and Vaughan would have to leapfrog some Test incumbents to earn a call-up to the Blues side.

    McGregor had a frank answer when asked after the Warriors victory if he thought Vaughan had done enough to earn a maiden Blue jumper.

    “Yes I do,” he said.

    “I hope they’re all in, the players we’re talking about, there’s probably three or four there [in contention].

    “I’m a coach that promotes our players playing at the highest level because when they come back they come back more experienced.

    “They get to learn off other players and they get to play on the big stage which is only good for our footy team going forward.

    “Certainly if Laurie rings me they’re available.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4676125/blue-bloods/?cs=3713
     
  20. getsmarty

    getsmarty First Grade

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    NSW deny Vaughan’s chance for State of Origin debut

    Tim Barrow@@TheBarrow

    22 May 2017, 11:38 a.m.
    [​IMG]

    Missed out: Paul Vaughan looks to pass while playing for Country against City at Mudgee. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    BY any measure, Paul Vaughan should be leading a new dawn for NSW, instead of watching the sunset in Hawaii next week.

    After another barnstrorming, eye-catching performance against the Warriors, Vaughan has now run for more than 200 metres three times in 11 games.

    He’s barged his way forward for 180m-plus six times, to be second in the NRL’s Dally M medal count and leading the buy-of-the season opinion polls.

    But for all the impressive statistics which show his season is superior to Blues big men Andrew Fifita, Aaron Woods and David Klemmer, it mattered little on Monday night.

    Coming from Canberra to Wollongong, Vaughan has played fewer minutes than those middle men chosen for NSW this season, but is only eclipsed by Fifita in terms of offloads and tackle breaks.

    The other major forward categories, including tackles, all run metres, line breaks and even tries are firmly in Vaughan’s favour, as the panel below indicates.

    Instead, of travelling to a week-long camp on the Gold Coast before game one in Brisbane, Vaughan said will be a groomsman at one of his best mate’s wedding in Hawaii. “If I don’t get picked I’ll be disappointed but I’ll be Hawaii so it won’t be too bad. Either situation’s pretty good for me,” Vaughan said last week.

    “I think every football player wants to play at the highest level and that is the highest level, State of Origin, so I’d love to be involved in it.”

    Berkeley’s Jack Bird will be coach Laurie Daley’s utility player, with Kiama’s Brett Morris on the wing.

    Corrimal’s Tyson Frizell, who was a standout in a losing cause last year, is named in the starting team.

    Jack de Belin has been chosen as a shadow player, after an outstanding start to the NRL season.

    • CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
    How the NSW front row stocks stack up (Source: NRL.com statistics)

    Minutes: Fifita 597, Klemmer 582, Woods 544, Vaughan 528

    Hit-ups: Fifita 157, Vaughan 156, Klemmer 137, Woods 137

    All run metres: Vaughan 1729, Fifita 1727, Klemmer 1603, Woods 1547

    Tackles: Vaughan 322, Fifita 314, Woods 240, Klemmer 223

    Missed tackles: Klemmer 19, Woods 13, Fifita 11, Vaughan 7

    Offloads: Fifita 26, Woods 17, Vaughan 8, Klemmer 2

    Tackle breaks: Fifita 46, Vaughan 27, Klemmer 18, Woods 8

    Line breaks: Vaughan 4, Fifita 2, Klemmer 0, Woods 0

    Tries: Vaughan 3, Fifita 1, Klemmer 0, Woods 0.


    STATE OF ORIGIN
    [​IMG]
    Jack de Belin

    QUEENSLAND v NSW

    Game on

    Wednesday, May 31

    NSW: James Tedesco, Blake Ferguson, Josh Dugan, Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Aaron Woods, Nathan Peats, Andrew Fifita, Josh Jackson, Boyd Cordner :copyright:, Tyson Frizell. Interchange: David Klemmer, Wade Graham, Jake Trbojevic, Jack Bird. Shadow players: Matt Moylan, Jordan McLean, Jack de Belin.

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4677618/nsw-deny-vaughans-chance-to-rise-shine/?cs=3713
     

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