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

  1. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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  2. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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  3. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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  4. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Best 17 for St George Illawarra Dragons in 2018: The Red V’s biggest question mark
    Dragons

    [​IMG]
    Dragons coach Paul McGregor. Picture: Mark EvansSource: News Corp Australia
    ST GEORGE Illawarra have brought in two big names to help boost their premiership hopes for 2018 and beyond, but there is still one big question mark lingering over their line-up ahead of the new season.
    The halfback headache has been solved with the arrival of Ben Hunt, and the hole left by Russell Packer has been filled by England international James Graham, but it’s what coach Paul McGregor will do with the fullback position that is the team’s biggest selection call.

    Pocket rocket Matt Dufty was handed his NRL debut in round 20 last season and played out the year in the position.

    Boasting plenty of pace, agility and ball skills, Dufty is considered the frontrunner for the No.1 jersey in 2018 following the departure of Josh Dugan.

    [​IMG]Matt Dufty in action. Picture: Brett CostelloSource: News Corp Australia

    With a relatively small frame, there could be some concerns over whether the 21-year-old can handle a full season of first grade football.

    It’s a question that needs to be answered sooner rather than later, with a settled spine crucial come September and uncertainty over a position as crucial as fullback a potential top four banana skin.

    McGregor isn’t short of options for the position should Dufty struggle, with Kurt Mann putting his hand up for the role, along with rising star Zac Lomax.

    Speedster Jai Field is also a contender, but needs to bulk up in order to handle the demands of week-to-week NRL.

    Another real possibility could be the shifting of Gareth Widdop who starred at fullback for England during the World Cup.

    McGregor has already hinted the captain would be staying put in the halves in 2018, but as we all know, the NRL season is a long one.

    Over the next month, foxsports.com.au will be previewing your team’s best 17.

    As always, there will be some contentious decisions — and some unlucky omissions.

    Scroll down and leave a comment to have your say.

    NB: These line ups don’t take into account current injuries (unless they’re season ending) or suspensions.

    THE LOCK

    Paul Vaughan — The big bopper is coming off his best NRL season to date and the Dragons will need him to keep producing the goods. Vaughan averaged 14.2 runs and 137 metres per game in 2017 — both career highs. He also busted an impressive 55 tackles and made 10 linebreaks, proving he was a hard man to pull down. The Italian international will no doubt only continue to thrive alongside experienced recruit James Graham.

    [​IMG]
    Paul Vaughan is tackled. Picture: Brett CostelloSource: News Corp Australia
    THE BUBBLE

    Nene Macdonald — The PNG international provided plenty of quality dummy half runs in his first season at the Dragons in 2017, but continued to struggle under the high ball. Should inconsistency continue to plague him, the club have a number of talented young backs coming up through the ranks in Patrick Herbert, Reuben Garrick and Lomax.

    THE RISING STAR

    Luciano Leilua — Fans were surprised the talented young forward didn’t see any first grade football in 2017 after making his debut late the previous season. Instead the 21-year-old plied his trade in the Intrust Super Premiership where he was named Illawarra’s player of the year. Leilua recently re-signed with the Red V until 2020, and the coaching staff are expecting big things from him after impressing at pre-season training.

    [​IMG]
    Luciano Leilua during training at WIN Stadium, Wollongong. Picture: Brett CostelloSource: News Corp Australia
    IT’S A BIG YEAR FOR ...

    Ben Hunt — One of 2018’s biggest signings, all eyes will be on the Dragons’ marquee No.7. The Red V struggled to find a quality halves partner for Gareth Widdop for many years, but finally secured their man in Hunt who arrives at the club on a $6 million, five-year deal with an option. With that price tag comes plenty of pressure and expectation, and all club stakeholders will be hoping he can take them deep into September.

    THE BEST 17

    1. Matt Dufty

    2. Jason Nightingale

    3. Euan Aitken

    4. Tim Lafai

    5. Nene Macdonald

    6. Gareth Widdop

    7. Ben Hunt

    8. Paul Vaughan

    9. Cameron McInnes

    10. James Graham

    11. Tyson Frizell

    12. Tariq Sims

    13. Jack De Belin

    14. Kurt Mann

    15. Leeson Ah Mau

    16. Jacob Host

    17. Luciano Leilua

    OTHERS: Darren Nicholls, Jai Field, Jordan Pereira, Patrick Herbert, Reuben Garrick, Steven Marsters, Tristan Sailor, Zac Lomax, Blake Lawrie, Hame Sele, Jackson Ford, Jeremy Latimore, Josh Kerr, Mitchell Allgood, Reece Robson.

    https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nr...k/news-story/baf749bd3258ca93391ab634184d2031
     
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  5. Gareth67

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    Graham seemed right at home down at the ' Gong , even enjoying his after-training swim.
    The man didn't have an ounce of fat on him neither , a good example to the younger players. Also like Tariq Simms comments about what needs to be done for the Dragons to improve this year . Good times ahead .
     
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  6. getsmarty

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    Summer Slog:



      • January 11, 2018 6:00am
      • by Staff writers
    DRAGONS

    St George Illawarra forward Tariq Sims says the club’s coaching staff have lengthened pre-season training sessions in a bid to get the side competing for entire games in 2018.

    “We’ve definitely extended our session times and definitely increased the intensity in our conditioning sessions,” Sims told NRL.com.

    “Last year, off the top of my head, we probably only locked out five or six games with a full 80-minute performance.

    “If you want to be competitive you need to be doing that every week.”

    https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nr...r/news-story/951144ef0c0248471c946999d7c2c627
     
  7. Old Timer

    Old Timer First Grade

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    What a load of hog shit.
    Already the poor excuses are coming out well before the season starts.
    We were told that "bootcamp" had us the fittest we have ever been so so losing crucial games wasn't anything to do with conditioning.
    Continually selecting busted players, continually selecting under performing players, continually under utilising the bench, continually having no plan B for attack when plan A went west, continually not being able to get up for crucial matches against sides lower than us on the ladder and continually making poor excuses in the press conferences will never be corrected by additional training or fitness work.
    That being said I can tell you how to remedy all of the above with one simple problem solving technique and it doesn't include 1 extra push, sit up or lap of the oval.
     
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  8. Dragsters

    Dragsters Juniors

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    I'm not sure fitness was more of an issue than the way Mary mismanaged the bench and the interchanges...
     
  9. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    The Way I see it is Other teams will also be increasing their Fitness levels. We couldn't keep up with the line speed of the top teams last year..just look @ the Storm....I bet they will be even faster this year which makes most of the above a mute point unless we increase our fitness levels exponentially.
     
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  10. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Dragons star Jason Nightingale impressed by new recruits
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    New recruit: James Graham. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

    Veteran Jason Nightingale believes St George Illawarra have assembled their best team since 2010 after the arrival of high-profile stars James Graham and Ben Hunt.

    This week marks the duo’s first week of training at the club and their arrival has been met with plenty of hype about the team’s top-four chances. The Kiwi international is the last of the Dragons 2010 premiership side remaining at the club and he’s been impressed by what he has seen.

    “In the last six or seven years, it’s the best squad we’ve put together since the premiership year,” Nightingale said.

    “So I’m very excited for that and that’s been a credit to a lot of people coming through the system and also the administration and staff to be able to put together a squad like we have this year.

    “There’s plenty of cause for optimism but we have to do a lot of hard work, especially at this time of year, to make sure that does come to fruition.”

    The 31-year-old is confident the team’s new recruits will pass on their knowledge to a promising group of young players that includes Luciano Leilua and Matt Dufty.

    “It really does balance the squad nicely, having the older guys come in, with so much experience and so much to teach the young forwards and young backs. It does balance the squad nicely to have that combination of youth and age to be able to mature them and get them through and hopefully see them adding to our squad and playing first grade.”

    Having played 225 English Super League matches and 135 NRL games for Canterbury, including two grand final defeats, Graham has plenty of experience to draw on and he’s looking forward to a new challenge with a new group of teammates.

    ”I think it’s clear to see it’s an exciting group,” He said. “There’s a lot of young players with some experience, a good set of lads so far.

    “I know that they all train really hard, so I’m looking forward to continuing that and seeing what the new season brings.

    “I’ve come here to do my best and try to play the best I can, I don’t know if re-energise is the right phrase, but I’m just going to come here and try and do my best and get on board with this club and the systems here and try and play the best possible rugby league I can

    Like Nightingale, Graham is refusing to promise St George Illawarra fans a premiership, but he has been pleased by what he’s seen throughout his first week at the club.

    “There’s a lot of things that have got to fall into place for that, but I think the foundations are definitely here.

    “I don’t think that’s something that just happens, you’ve got to build to that. But I think we’re going in the right direction.”

    Despite playing in the front row, Graham spent much of his time at the Bulldogs acting as an additional playmaker in Des Hasler’s unique attacking system. It’s a role he’s happy to continue to play if he’s asked to do so by the Dragons coaches.

    “I’m looking to fit into this team wherever the coaching staff see fit. If they want me to play with the ball, I will, if they want me to tuck it up the jumper, I will too.

    “The plan might differ from week to week, that’s how it generally does within most clubs. I imagine it will be no different here, I’ve just got to fit into the team and do my role to the best of my ability.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/...gale-confident-as-graham-hunt-arrive/?cs=3713
     
  11. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    [​IMG]

    NRL NEWS

    Graham showing the way for young Dragons forward
    Author
    Brad Walter Senior Reporter
    Timestamp
    Thu 11 Jan 2018, 04:58 PM

    Graham's first week

    James Graham had just finished his third training session since joining the St George Illawarra Dragons when he grabbed rookie forward Blake Lawrie and suggested they do some more fitness work.

    As most of the Dragons players prepared for a run to the beach adjoining WIN Stadium after the gruelling session on Thursday, Graham and Lawrie continued to train together before joining their teammates in the surf.

    "He has only been here a few days but he has impressed me," Lawrie told NRL.com. "You can tell how he has got to where he has and why he has played as many games as he has just by what he does on the training paddock.

    "He is always working hard and he always does extras. He just pulled me aside at the end of training then and we did a couple of extras together."

    Graham only began training with the Dragons this week following a trip to England and Canada to visit family after the World Cup but he is already demonstrating why the club was so keen to sign him from the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

    With a number of promising young forwards in his squad, including Lawrie, Jacob Host, Hame Sele and Luciano Leilua, Dragons coach Paul McGregor is looking for Graham - who has more than 400 NRL, Super League and Test matches on his resume - to assist with their development this season by acting as a forward leader.

    "You can just tell he has got a wealth of experience in his head," said Lawrie, who played six NRL matches last season. "Every little thing he has got to say something about he has got a different opinion or a different aspect."

    Graham said he enjoyed mentoring younger players and was excited about the potential at the Dragons in coming seasons, with Lawrie (5 games), Host (19), Sele (15) and Leilua (4) all just 21 years of age but each having played first grade.

    "As an older guy, I like seeing those younger guys coming through and seeing their careers develop," the 32-year-old English prop said.

    "We have seen a few young lads here get that taste of first team last year, they have got that first season under their belt, they know what the NRL is about and what they need to do to play week to week and I think we will see some of them come to the forefront of this pack this year."

    Known for his ball-playing ability as well as his toughness up front, Graham said he was happy to play either style depending on McGregor's wishes.

    "If they want me to play with the ball or whether they just want me to tuck it up my jumper I will do that.

    "The plan might differ from week-to-week but I have just got to fit into the team and play my role to the best of my ability. I am here to do my best and try to play the best I can. I just want to play well for this club."

    https://www.nrl.com/news/2018/01/11/graham-showing-the-way-for-young-dragons-forward/
     
  12. getsmarty

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    GYPSY’S FUNNY FAREWELL TO THOMMO

    St George Illawarra winger Jason Nightingale has taken to Instagram to farewell Joel Thompson following the backrower’s move to Manly.

    As revealed by Tyson Frizell to foxsports.com.au last season, Nightingale dubbed Thompson the “toughest man in rubgy league” after the forward played through a host of niggling injuries including floating bone in his elbow.

    Take at look at the below video, fittingly featuring a bit of R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts”.



    Still at the Dragons, congratulations to young forward Hame Sele and his partner Maria on the birth of their daughter Valentina Rose.

    Sele, 21, made his NRL debut for the Red V in 2017 and went on to play 15 games.

    He also made his first senior representative team in NSW City for the final Country-City game.

    [​IMG]
    Dragons forward Hame Sele and his partner welcome their child into the world.Source: Twitter
    https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nr...e/news-story/1dea67b39119281859710157af7a0349
     
  13. getsmarty

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  14. getsmarty

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  15. getsmarty

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    Young Cronulla Sharks and St George Illawarra Dragons emerge as future NSW State of Origin stars
    • Dragon's Den
      [​IMG]
      Speed to burn: Young Dragons star Jai Field training at Wollongong last season. Picture: Adam McLean

    • The futures of St George Illawarra and Cronulla look bright if their representation in a trio of NSW squads is anything to go by.

      Three Sharks and five Dragons players were invited to new NSW coach Brad Fittler’s Emerging Blues camp last weekend while a further four young Cronulla players were chosen in a NSW under-16s and under-18s pathways program.

      Sharks hooker Jayden Brailey was joined by under-20s star Kyle Flanagan and Jesse Ramien in the Emerging Blues squad alongside exciting St George Illawarra duo Matt Dufty and Jai Field. Dragons trio Hame Sele, Reece Robson and Zac Lomax were also included in the squad, though Sele was a late withdrawal due to the birth of his first child.

      Fittler chose 38 players from across 13 NRL clubs for the session at ANZ Stadium where they were joined by specialist positional coaches Andrew Johns, Craig Fitzgibbon, Matt King, Mark O’Meley, Anthony Minichiello and Blues assistant coach Danny Buderus.

      Fittler said last month the players chosen all had a bright future.

      “I’ve brought these players in because they’re players I really respect and I believe they can learn a lot from the camp both on and off the field,” he said.

      “The majority of these players are young stars already playing first grade or on their way to the top grade. These players will be the backbone of the NSW Origin team going forward.

      “We’re hoping they get a lot from the Emerging Blues camp about expectations and learning from some of NSW Origin’s best former players who I have played with and really respect.”

      Buderus also guided the under-16s and under-18s pathway players at their three-day camp at Narrabeen this week.

      Young Sharks Franklin Pele and Bronson Xerri were chosen in the under-18s side while Billy Burke and Blake Hosking were named in the under-16s.

    • http://www.theleader.com.au/story/5171744/young-sharks-and-dragons-emerge-as-future-blues/?cs=3833
     
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  16. getsmarty

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    NRL 2018: Your club’s biggest selection problem for this season
    Matt Encarnacion and Scott Bailey, AAP
    January 16, 2018 12:05pm

    DRAGONS - Fullback


    Matt Dufty is regarded as the frontrunner to wear the No.1 jersey after spending the last seven games there last year. However, club insiders say the versatile Kurt Mann and fellow youngsters Jai Field and Zac Lomax are proving worthy challengers to join a spine including big-money earners Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt.

    [​IMG]
    Kurt Mann.
    https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/s...n/news-story/827c2996a9f259fa81715f660e002fa6
     
  17. getsmarty

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    DRAGONS



    [​IMG]
    New Dragon means business

    1:24
    Off contract: None

    2018 Gains: James Graham (Bulldogs), Ben Hunt (Broncos), Jeremy Latimore (Sharks), Darren Nicholls (Panthers), Mitchell Allgood (Wakefield), Ash Nisbet (Tigers)

    2018 Losses: Joel Thompson (Sea Eagles), Josh Dugan (Sharks), Will Matthews (Titans), Josh McCrone (Toronto), Taane Milne (Tigers), Russell Packer (Tigers), Levi Dodd (Townsville), Kalifa Faifai Loa (Townsville), Jacob Hind (Sunshine Coast until 2018), Drew Hutchison (Leigh), Yaw Kiti Glymin (not re-signed), Jake Marketo (rugby), Siliva Havili (Raiders), Joel Thompson (Manly)

    Re-Signed: Euan Aitken (2020), Jack de Belin (2020), Jacob Host (2020), Tim Lafai (2020), Blake Lawrie (2019), Kurt Mann (2019), Jason Nightingale (2018), Tristan Sailor (2019), Paul Vaughan (2021), Gareth Widdop (2021), Jackson Ford (2020), Cameron McInnes (2021), Luciano Leilua (2020)

    https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nr...n/news-story/2c8358f06d83e2338d260972f017f478
     
  19. getsmarty

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    Scrutiny par for the course for Hunt
    Local Sport
    [​IMG]
    MARQUEE MAN: Ben Hunt at Dragons training. Picture: Robert Peet

    HE’S St George Illawarra’s own six million-dollar man, but marquee Dragons recruit Ben Hunt says he’s no stranger to the scrutiny that will no doubt accompany his first season in the red v.

    It’s something the 27-year-old accepts having arrived in Wollongong on one of the longest – and richest – deals for a half in NRL history.

    The six-year multi-million-dollar deal, signed prior to the start of the 2017 season, also sent the NRL halves market into a frenzy, ensuring there’ll be no player more under the microscope in 2018.

    It means he’ll have to fire from game one – ironically against his former club – but Hunt said that pressure has been par for the course since debuting in 2009.

    “I think it’s something that’s come [before] with me being a halfback at the Broncos,” Hunt said.

    “You’re in a one team [city], there’s always been a lot of pressure on the Broncos up there and the players that play in the halves. I think I’ve just learned to cop it and just move on.”

    His arrival at the Dragons comes on the back of a mixed 2017 campaign that saw him dropped to Queensland Cup by Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.

    It led many to question the Dragons faith, only for Hunt return as a No.9 and earn an Origin debut and Test recall by the end of the season.

    “Personally I was really happy with the year overall,” Hunt said.

    “It was a big roller coaster being in the team, then out of the team, then back in. The way our team was built up there we had a little bit of depth in the halves and not so much in the hooker role.

    “When [Bennett] asked me I was happy to do it. We had a couple of good halves and me slotting in there was what was best for the team.

    “Getting the opportunity to play some rep footy was the highlight of the year and something I really enjoyed.”

    That versatility proved a boost to his representative selection chances, but Hunt insists his top priority on shifting to the Dragons is re-establishing himself as one of the game’s premier No. 7’s.

    “Mary [Paul McGregor] told me before I came, and when I first got here, that it’s going to be number seven and that’s where I’ll be playing,” Hunt said.

    “We’ve got a pretty good number nine here in Cam [McInnes] and I think he’s earned that spot, he’s been really good there.

    “Personally, and as a team, there’s some goals there for us and I want to cement my role here as the number seven and hang onto that.

    “It’s what the Dragons have brought me here for, to really lead from the front along with Gareth [Widdop]. That’s what my plan is to really come in and hit the ground running from game one.”

    Widdop also re-signed with the Dragons for four more years last season, giving the club unprecedented stability in the halves.

    Hunt said the chance to form what could be one of the league’s premier halves combinations with his new skipper is an exciting one.

    “It’s was something I was excited about when I first signed with the club, knowing I was going to be playing alongside him,” Hunt said.

    “He’s one of the best [halves] in the game. I’m sure the more time we get together, the more we learn about each others’ games, the better it’s going to be for both of us.

    “I think we have the squad here to be in the finals so anything less than that would be a disappointment.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/5175620/scrutiny-par-for-the-course-for-hunt/?cs=302
     
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  20. getsmarty

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