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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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    The St George Illawarra Dragons will visit Glen Willow on February 24
    News
    [​IMG]
    RED V ICONS: Craig Young and Shaun Timmins visited Mudgee on February 2 to swing the club at the Moolarben Celebrity Golf Classic. Photo: Jake Humphreys
    Thirty-five years ago, legendary St George Dragons front rower Craig Young laced up the boots to play in the first ever Charity Shield.

    Fast forward to 2018 and he’ll be frantically watching the annual clash at Mudgee’s Glen Willow on February 24.

    “The game has changed and will always change but nothing is different about the rivalry,” Young said.

    Young wasn’t just an on-field enforcer between 1977-1988, he was also a NSW police officer by day.

    “We all worked, we all had jobs,” he said.

    Young is the club’s chairman and is looking forward to overseeing Luciano Leilua’s 2018 campaign after recruiting the young gun in 2014.

    “He’s big and powerful but he’s got good ball skills,” he said.

    “He’ll get a good run at Mudgee.”

    The Young family plays an important part in the Dragons’ club structure as Craig’s son Dean is the first grade forwards coach.

    “Dean’s enthusiastic. He’s been there ever since Mary [McGregor] started and he’s a good fit for the role.”

    Step inside a recent sprint session at WIN Stadium with a mic'd up @tariq_sims!

    Click here for the extended version: https://t.co/UPhSRw52iD#redvpic.twitter.com/1XvEjuvomO

    — The Dragons (@NRL_Dragons) January 31, 2018
    Something that will likely make Dean Young’s job easier is the acquisition of English international prop James Graham who came to the Dragons in the off-season as one of the biggest buys of the year.

    If there’s one way people describe Graham, it’s that he’s a ‘competitor’ – Craig’s assessment of him was no different.

    Young spoke to The Mudgee Guardian during the Moolarben Celebrity Golf Classic on February 2 and brought another Dragons legend with him.

    Shaun Timmins is 12 years removed from his playing days that saw nine NSW Blues and nine Kangaroos caps and is pumped to see the Charity Shield at Mudgee.

    “It’s always been the biggest trial and it’s very exciting for us,” Timmmins said.

    “It’s a great town and I know we’ve got a lot of support out here with the Mudgee Dragons and I know the players and coaching staff are looking forward to it.”

    Paul McGregor’s side won’t be taking any prisoners on February 24 and Timmins predicts the Dragons will be all hands on deck ahead of a crucial 2018 campaign.

    “It’s a great hit out and Mary will have the full strength side in,” he said.

    “We’ve got a couple of new buys in James Graham and Ben Hunt so it will be good to see how they look leading into the season.

    Ben Hunt says he is enjoying his football at the Dragons after coming off a triumphant World Cup campaign.

    Read here: https://t.co/WTTkeQef6O#redvpic.twitter.com/EUhbn4gVVt

    — The Dragons (@NRL_Dragons) February 6, 2018
    “He’ll [Hunt] come to us as a genuine number seven which is quite exciting because it’s something we probably haven’t had in a while.”

    The Charity Shield will be played with extra spice this year as Souths dealt the Dragons a crucial blow in round 22 of 2017, defeating the red and whites 26-24 which ultimately prevented them from playing finals footy.

    They say pre-season isn’t an accurate indicator of how a team’s going to fare once the year kicks off, but in the case of The Charity Shield a lot will be learned about both the Dragons and Souths.

    http://www.mudgeeguardian.com.au/story/5210810/35-years-of-the-charity-shield/
     
  3. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    NRL NEWS

    McInnes' toothless sacrifice for career
    Author
    Alicia Newton
    Timestamp
    Sun 11 Feb 2018, 07:00 PM

    Dragons duo's Origin dream

    By the end of Cameron McInnes's career, forgive him if he fails to crack a smile.

    Forgive him if he's hard to understand. Because at 24 years of age, things are looking grim.

    The St George Illawarra Dragons hooker has given up hope of fixing his pearly whites until the end of his career after revealing he'll play the 2018 Telstra Premiership with a soft gel brace to stabilise his bottom set of teeth.

    After playing in every game for the Red V in his debut season at the club last year, McInnes copped enough knocks during every 1155 tackles - the most of any other player in 2017 - to jolt more free.

    "If I take the brace out they're loose. I can wiggle them and they could just fall out," McInnes told NRL.com.

    "I got a big whack last year but even with a mouthguard it knocked them all out of place."

    I'm not willing to put any money into my teeth now. After I finish with my career I'll get them all done.

    Cameron McInnes
    Already sporting a fake front tooth he can remove before training sessions and games, McInnes is resigned to waiting possibly another decade to resolve his entire mouth's issues.

    By then, he could either be a dentist's dream or total nightmare.

    "They can do the front tooth now but I need a screw in and if I get it knocked it will just be a waste of money," he said.

    "I'm not willing to put any money into my teeth now. After I finish with my career I'll get them all done."

    While the former South Sydney Rabbitohs rake struggles to hold onto his teeth, fellow No.9s don't seem to have the same issue.

    "Maybe it's my technique or I just get unlucky, I'm not sure," McInnes said.

    "I've always got knocked in the teeth from a young age. When fatigue sets in I put my head in the way just to make sure I make the tackle.

    "Mum and Dad care because they paid for braces when I was younger. The missus isn't too happy about it all now but oh well."

    [​IMG]
    Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Cameron McInnes clash heads in 2017. :copyright:Brendan Esposito/NRL Photos
    The "oh well" answer is exactly how McInnes feels. He's not concerned about personal looks but rather what he can offer the Dragons after an impressive 2017 season.

    After departing the Rabbitohs, he became one of the buys of the year following his move to Wollongong and has been earmarked as a potential State of Origin bolter.

    But the individual accolades meant little for the Botany junior as the Dragons crashed out of top-eight contention with a shock six-point loss to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the final round of the regular season.

    "For two weeks after that round 26 loss I was shattered," McInnes said.

    "When I reflected a bit later I was happy with my season overall, playing 80 minutes every week and proving to myself I can play the way I know I'm capable of.

    "When I was at Souths, and I don't like to go back to that too much, but the most frustrating part of that experience was not playing to my potential.

    "It's hard to explain but it was a real mental shift coming to the Dragons. It was a great opportunity not many people get. I knew that I had to make the most of it. That started with changing the way I thought.

    "Now I'm behind one of the best packs, if not the best in the comp, and you throw in Gareth Widdop on one side and now Ben Hunt on the other … it's not the hardest job in the world."



    https://www.nrl.com/news/2018/02/11/cameron-mcinness-toothless-sacrifice-for-career/
     
  4. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    [​IMG]

    CLUB NEWS

    Dragons home games on sale
    Author
    Dragons.com.au dragons.com.au
    Timestamp
    Mon 12 Feb 2018, 09:00 AM

    St George Illawarra Dragons fans will be able to purchase casual tickets to all Dragons 2018 home games from Tuesday, February 13.

    Red V Members however will have the opportunity to take advantage of their exclusive pre-sale and 20 per cent discount on tickets on Monday.

    The St George Illawarra Dragons will have five scintillating clashes at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah and WIN Stadium, Wollongong in addition to the blockbuster Anzac Day clash against the Roosters and the unmissable Glen Willow Stadium clash against the Raiders.

    The Round 1 season opener against the Broncos, complete with Graeme Langlands tribute and the Round 4 Easter Sunday match against the Knights will kick off the five games scheduled at Kogarah and Wollongong respectively.

    After the home game venue announcement in September 2017, Dragons fans can also look forward to seeing the Red V take on the likes of the Rabbitohs, Bulldogs, Eels and Tigers back at our traditional venues.

    Make sure you mark down Friday, April 13 for the local derby clash against the Sharks at WIN Stadium.

    With less than a month to go until season kick-off, now is the time to make sure you are amongst the red and white army on game day, or better still march with us and become a Dragons member and see all matches at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah or WIN Stadium, Wollongong from just $99.

    Not a member yet? Red V Membership program offers a range of flexible packages to suit everyone.

    If you need help deciding which membership is best for you in 2018 go to www.marchwithus.com.au or contact our team on 1300DRAGON or [email protected]

    Belong, connect and commit by becoming a Red V Member in 2018.

    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/02/12/dragons-home-games-on-sale/
     
  5. getsmarty

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    Offload king Lafai to be more selective in 2018
    Author
    Chris Kennedy
    Timestamp
    Mon 12 Feb 2018, 02:07 PM

    Tim Lafai enjoyed a career year in 2017 but despite racking up plenty of attacking numbers, he realisess he needs to use better judgement to avoid putting the St George Illawarra Dragons in a tricky predicament.

    Last season, Lafai racked up 64 offloads – second-most in the NRL after Manly's Martin Taupau (71) and his 18 line break assists were fourth among all NRL players and the most at the Dragons. His 11 try assists were second-best of any player who played outside the key playmaking positions behind just Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs centre Brenko Lee (12).

    However, his 32 errors were sixth-worst NRL-wide and the most at the Dragons and Lafai knows there is a time and a place for generating second-phase play.

    "It's something that just kind of comes [naturally] but it's also something I need to work on too," Lafai told NRL.com.

    "I need to control it because it can go bad or good. This season it's about learning when to do it and controlling it. When you get tackled and you feel the ball free it just comes to your mind so it's something you've got to practise too."

    [​IMG]
    A pushed offload inside the attacking 40 when there's a chance of pressing for points is one thing but doing it while coming out of territory from inside the team's own half is a high-risk strategy; while a line break created can swing the momentum of the match, an error places the team under immediate pressure to defend its line.

    "[Offloading inside our half] is something we've spoken about. I need to be cautious and pick and choose when to do it when the timing's right. That's something I've been working on this off-season and hopefully going into the games it will pay off," Lafai said.

    It's not a case of Paul McGregor reading the riot act, though – the coach wants his players to back themselves.

    "Mary is really supportive, he's all for it but when the time is right," Lafai said.

    "He spoke to me and we agreed I need to learn control and be consistent with it and have a 'run-first' mentality then if it comes, throw it."

    NRL.com Stats figures show Lafai's numbers exploded last season compared to previous years. In terms of regular-season games, Lafai played 18 times for the club in 2016 and the same number the previous year at Canterbury.

    Those 36 matches netted a total of just six line break assists and 43 offloads combined, well under his standalone 2017 tallies.

    [​IMG]
    Dragons centre Tim Lafai celebrates a try. :copyright:Robb Cox/NRL Photos
    Lafai admitted it took him a little while to hit his straps at the Dragons but that the change away from Belmore after five seasons in blue and white had given him a new lease on life.

    "I guess change is always good. It doesn't happen straight away. It came good the second year and I think it matured me in a way too, going from what I was so used to do something different, it builds your character," he said.

    "We went back to the drawing board with Mary and the coaches, sat down and looked at stuff that we can work on in the pre-season and it showed in the team, it was awesome with Gareth [Widdop] and the boys, it helped a lot forming those combinations.

    "I've got to be more consistent and play every game this year for the Dragons. That's my main focus is to stay consistent and stay in the top squad through to the finals."

    https://www.nrl.com/news/2018/02/12/offload-king-lafai-to-be-more-selective-in-2018/
     
  6. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Get on the bus! The trip to help Dragons recruits feel at home
    Simon Brunsdon and Nathan Ryan, FOX SPORTS
    February 12, 2018 7:29am
    MOVE over Ivan Cleary.

    You can keep your metaphorical bus. St George Illawarra has a literal bus.

    Cleary infamously urged his biggest Wests Tigers stars to “get on the bus” and commit their futures to the club when taking the reins of the club last year.

    But the Dragons’ bus has four wheels, an engine, and a dozen Dragons already aboard. And it’s helping a couple of high-profile recruits feel right at home ... away from home.

    James Graham and Ben Hunt are suiting up for the Red V this year, but they wanted to live a little closer to Sydney than an hour south in sunny Wollongong.

    Luckily, a handful of their new teammates were already set up in Sydney’s south, scattered around the Shire and surrounding suburbs.

    In fact, there will be 12 of them in total, once Cameron McInnes makes the move north in a couple of weeks.


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Dragons recruits Ben Hunt and James Graham.
    So club statesman Jason Nightingale came up with an idea to hire a bus for the entire year.

    Instead of driving down to training in half a dozen different cars — some making the trip by themselves — the dozen teammates can enjoy each others’ company and get to know one another a little better.

    “Our crew has expanded. We’ve now got 12 with Ben and James Graham in our Sydney crew,” Nightingale told foxsports.com.au.

    “We’ve invested in a bus so we can include our whole Sydney family. There’s 12 of us when Cam McInnes moves up in a month. We have a 12-seater bus so we can all ride to training.

    “We pay for that all between us and we can include guys like Nene (Macdonald), Duff (Matt Dufty), Hosty (Jacob Host) and a couple of young guys that live in Sydney.

    “It breaks up the trip when you have plenty of people to talk to.”

    The dozen players have been taking it in turns to drive the bus, while the 11 teammates sit back and relax either side of the gruelling pre-season training sessions.

    Last year it was Nightingale, Tyson Frizell, and Josh Dugan who were making the trip, and often carpooled together.

    Now most of the crew are in a group chat and often catch up outside their rostered days on to socialise and bond.

    “We always catch up, especially on our recovery days during the week,” Frizell told foxsports.com.au.

    “We make an effort to go out for brekky or do something. We’re pretty close, especially when we are living away from Wollongong, and we don’t live too far from each other.”

    Frizell has already become close friends with new teammate Hunt, who he spent plenty of time with in Kangaroos camp during the World Cup.

    [​IMG]
    Dragons signing Ben Hunt at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
    Their partners have also hit it off, which has helped the Hunt family slot seamlessly into their new life.

    “I’d met Ben in (Australian) camp and my partner had met his partner, and she kind of helped them out (finding a house),” Frizell said.

    “They live just down road from us now. We went over there the first day they moved in to see how they were travelling.

    “I think they’re enjoying their time in the Shire. It’s different to Brissy but they are enjoying it.”

    But with the proximity to his new teammates, a dark secret of Hunt’s has been discovered.

    [​IMG]
    Dragons recruit James Graham.
    Despite being one of rugby league’s biggest earners, he’s a little shy about opening his wallet ... allegedly.

    Nightingale laments his new teammate isn’t too keen on shouting the boys a coffee.

    “We found out who’s a little tighter with their wallet and ironically it’s Ben. He’s had his wallet out the least,” Nightingale joked.

    “Benji (Marshall) is a big shouter and tried to tell Ben you have to shout early. He struggled with that for a while but we finally got a shout out of him two weeks into the car pool. That was a breakthrough for us.”


    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sport...k=50378e695938a6aa21f6370b8205524b-1518411975
     
  7. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    NRL 2018: Ben Hunt reveals his new playing style at the Dragons
    Dragons
    • February 12, 2018 10:04pm
    • by Staff writers
    • Source: FOX SPORTS
    [​IMG]
    Dragons signing Ben Hunt at WIN Stadium. Picture: Dylan RobinsonSource: News Corp Australia
    ST GEORGE Illawarra’s marquee signing Ben Hunt has revealed the style of play Dragons coach Paul McGregor would like him to adopt at his new club in 2018.
    After spending his whole career to date with Brisbane, Hunt has now arrived at the Red V on a six-year, multimillion-dollar deal.

    The pressure will no doubt be on Hunt to help the club return to finals football, but he’s been given a plan from McGregor to help him do it alongside halves partner Gareth Widdop.


    [​IMG]
    Hunt's new style in Red V

    1:15
    “He wants me to be playing more first receiver and getting my hands on the ball a lot earlier,” Hunt told NRL 360.

    “He feels, and I agree with him, that one of my strengths is running the ball.

    “He wants me getting it straight from the dummy half, having runners inside and outside and really threatening the line.”


    When asked whether he wasn’t allowed to be “on the ball” at the Broncos, Hunt replied: “Not necessarily not allowed, it was just the style of football, I guess.

    “We had some pretty good mobile forwards up there that like to play with the ball a bit and that was just how we fell into playing.

    “Coming down here, one of the first things Mary said was that he wants me to get up on the ball, get to first receiver and get the forwards inside, outside me rather than playing off them all the time.”

    https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nr...k=ac265c2a717111730ea1d3ed3e3c5965-1518438147
     
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  8. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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  9. getsmarty

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  11. getsmarty

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    Ben Hunt and Gareth Widdop might be the NRL's most dynamic halves pairing
    News
    [​IMG]
    NEW RECRUIT: Ben Hunt joined the Red V on a six million dollar deal after 2017 and all eyes will be on the former Brisbane Bronco this season. Photo: John Veage
    Not since the days of Matthew Head and Ben Hornby have the Dragons had a halfback they can lean on.

    It’s been the Josh McCrone show in the last couple of seasons and although the current Toronto Wolfpack playmaker gave the Red V a spark here and there, he didn’t bring the level of consistency you need from a first grade leader.

    Will Ben Hunt be able to provide that level of leadership? Only time will tell.

    Some will say a number seven is only as good as the five eighth next to him and in the case of Ben Hunt, he’s walking into an ideal situation with English international Gareth Widdop set to wear the number six jersey all season.

    Widdop has gone from a 20-year-old, Craig Bellamy apprentice in 2010 to an irreplaceable part of St George Illawarra’s roster today.

    His partnership with Ben Hunt not only shapes as one of the best halves pairings in the league, but could give the Dragons the boost they need to play finals footy.

    Where can you see this dynamic duo live in the flesh? Glen Willow Sporting Complex on February 24.

    The Charity Shield is known for its high-paced and passionate encounters and both the Dragons and the Bunnies always seem to throw their strongest sides onto the paddock so you can bank on seeing the Hunt-Widdop combo run around.

    Ben Hunt says he is enjoying his football at the Dragons after coming off a triumphant World Cup campaign.
    — The Dragons (@NRL_Dragons) February 6, 2018

    Productive halfbacks like Hunt don’t grow on trees and club legend Shaun Timmins thinks the signing will work wonders for his beloved franchise.

    “Ben’s a quality player having played for Queensland and Australia,” he said.

    “He’ll come to the Dragons as a genuine number seven which is probably something we haven’t had for a while.

    “It’s quite exciting and we’ll be looking for him to go to that next level with his game.”

    The Dragons 2017 campaign was reviewed as a disappointing one considering the late-season plummet, but Timmins hasn’t forgotten the unanimous doubt hurled at the club by the NRL cognoscenti in the lead up to the season.

    “Last year we were written off before the season even started and then we came out of the blocks really well,” he said.

    “We were sitting at the top of the ladder half way through the season so it was disappointing to miss out on the finals.

    “I’m sure the team will be working on their consistency but hopefully now with the quality they’ve brought in it’s going to help them at the end of the season.”

    Don’t think for a second the Dragons have forgotten about the devastating loss they experienced in round 22 against the Rabbitohs.

    With revenge adding to a 35-year-old tradition, the 2018 Charity Shield might be the juiciest one yet.


    http://www.mudgeeguardian.com.au/story/5224558/dragons-halves-duo-set-to-rock-glen-willow/
     
  12. getsmarty

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    St George Illawarra Dragons forward Tyson Frizell backs international call
    • Local Sport
      [​IMG]
      Ready to go: Dragons forward Tyson Frizell during pre-season training in Wollongong. Picture: John Veage
      Dragons forward Tyson Frizell says he would back moves to take NRL games abroad as St George Illawarra prepare to take on Super League giants Hull as part of a double-header on Saturday.

      Old rivals Hull and Wigan fought it out for the Kenny-Sterling Shield in Wollongong in the first regular season Super League game played outside Europe last Saturday night. The Dragons start their pre-season campaign when they face Hull at ANZ Stadium.

      The double-header will also feature South Sydney taking on Wigan.

      Moves to take an NRL match abroad have been touted in the past, with the USA and Asia possible destinations, but are yet to come to fruition.

      St George Illawarra floated the possibility of an international fixture in finalising it’s schedule for 2018 but ultimately decided to take their round 11 clash with Canberra to Mudgee.

      Frizell said he would jump at the chance to take the game to a new international audience.

      “I’m all for it. Pre-season’s a long time, you’e doing a lot of training,” Frizell said.

      “To break that up and maybe expand the game and play footy somewhere where rugby league is not as well known would only be good for us as players and also the game.

      “It’s something to look at down the track.”

      Including Test and Origin appearances, Frizell played 31 games in 2017 – for the most part carrying torn rib cartilage – and said player welfare would need to be taken into account.

      Kick-off is at 5.30pm.


      http://www.theleader.com.au/story/5217960/frizell-backs-international-call/
     
  13. getsmarty

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    2018 St George Community Blitz complete
    Author
    Dragons.com.au dragons.com.au
    Timestamp
    Wed 14 Feb 2018, 04:00 PM

    The St George Illawarra Dragons on Tuesday, February 13 travelled throughout the St George region for their annual community blitz.

    Together the blitz saw a total of 12 schools accounted for, with most of the visits culminating with football clinics that helped encourage kids to play rugby league.

    Hundreds of kids were able to meet their favourite Dragons players including Jack de Belin, Jason Nightingale and Matt Dufty as well as new faces Ben Hunt and Jeremy Latimore.

    Players and staff were joined by NRL Game Development Officers in delivering the Dragons Wellbeing Program to local students prior to the football clinics.

    The Dragons participated in education lessons with students, focusing on the importance of nutrition, belonging, respect and their overall wellbeing.



    [​IMG]
    St George Community Blitz

    2 / 17
    [​IMG]
    St George Community Blitz

    3 / 17
    [​IMG]
    St George Community Blitz


    [​IMG]
    St George Community Blitz

    Dragons back-rower Luciano Leilua visited Athelstane Public School in his local area of Arncliffe on Tuesday and was pleased to give back to the area he's called home for many years.

    "I always enjoy getting out to the local community and schools and seeing all the excited kids," Leilua said.

    "Having grown up in the local area I always enjoy getting home and giving back to the kids because not too long ago I was in their shoes.

    "Everyone in the St George region loves their footy and hopefully one day we'll see some of them become future St George Illawarra Dragons."

    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/02/14/2018-st-george-community-blitz/
     
  14. getsmarty

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    Hunt, Graham named for Dragons debut
    [​IMG]
    Former Penrith star Bryce Cartwright will run out in Titans colours for the first time on Saturday. (AAP)


    Ben Hunt and James Graham will make their St George Illawarra debuts against English outfit Hull at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

    Updated Updated 30 mins ago

    Ben Hunt and James Graham have been named to make their St George Illawarra debuts in the Dragons' NRL trial against English outfit Hull at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

    The club's other off-season buys Jeremy Latimore (Cronulla), Darren Nicholls (Penrith) and Mitch Allgood (Wakefield Trinity) also feature in the 24-strong squad.

    The clash is part of a double-header with South Sydney taking on English heavyweights Wigan in the other game.


    https://www.sbs.com.au/news/hunt-graham-named-for-dragons-debut
     
  15. getsmarty

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    DRAGONS

    Kerr, Lovodua re-sign with the Red V
    Author
    Dragons.com.au dragons.com.au
    Timestamp
    Thu 15 Feb 2018, 10:00 AM

    St George Illawarra Under-20s utility Joe Lovodua has been promoted to the full-time development player squad and has had his contract extended a further 12 months, while front-rower Josh Kerr has also re-signed for a further season.

    Lovodua will now spend at least the next two seasons with the NRL squad alongside fellow development players Tristan Sailor, Jackson Ford and Steven Marsters following the upgrade of his 2018 Under-20s contract.

    The 19-year-old Hurstville United junior only recently returned to pre-season training after played four Tests for Fiji at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

    Lovodua – who is capable of playing hooker, lock and in the halves – was excited to put his Bati learnings and experience into practice at the Dragons.

    "I was stoked to make that Fijian side to play at the World Cup. I've made some lifelong friends and I think the effort and hard work I put in throughout my time with the Bati has certainly helped me secure my spot here in the development squad," Lovodua said.

    "It's been a tough and long journey coming through the ranks, and all the hard work has paid off now.

    "To see how far the other development players have come after all the hard work they've put in this pre-season is exciting for me."

    Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward said Lovodua's promotion was a reflection of the possibilities that the Dragons' pathways can provide committed local juniors.

    "Joe has shown over the last couple of years that he's improved his game. Physically and skill-wise he's improved too. On top of that he had a fantastic World Cup for Fiji playing against men after coming from the Under-20s," Millward said.

    "We have upgraded Joe to a development contract which means he'll now become a full-time player in our top squad. We still had spots available in our development squad and like we've said all along we didn't rush these things and hand spots out.

    "We wanted to reward him for the way he's been going. He's a versatile player and we see him developing as a utility player down the track which is why we wanted to get him in that full-time environment as quick as possible."

    Kerr, who was off-contract at the end of 2018, will now remain at the Dragons until at least the end of the 2019 Telstra Premiership season.

    The 21-year-old former Under-20s Queensland representative was one of three players to play every game of Illawarra in 2017, and is looking to make his much-anticipated NRL debut in 2018.

    "My rugby league dream was always limited to reserve grade because I thought the NRL was a far-fetched thing for me. Now that I'm here though, I've put in too much work and sacrificed a lot of things, and I think now is the year for me," Kerr said.

    "Just like any other trade, you have to do your apprenticeship and mine was spent playing in the Intrust Super Premiership in 2017.

    "But now I've extended my contract, it's an opportunity that I'm looking to take with both hands. I want to test myself and prove to everyone that I'm an NRL player."

    Millward stressed the importance of Kerr's retention and tipped that first grade isn't far away for him.

    "A towering front-rower, we recruited him out of the Melbourne Storm a few seasons ago," he said.

    "Josh has really good leg speed, and when you're trying to find balance in your forward pack, you have to have some height and power.

    "We'd like to think he's going to play some first grade games this year, and then in 2019 we expect him to be a player who really pushes some of our more experienced players.

    "From a strategic, long-term point of view, it was really important for us to see him remain at the club."

    Kerr and Lovodua's extensions follow the likes of Gareth Widdop, Euan Aitken, Jack de Belin, Paul Vaughan, Tim Lafai, Kurt Mann, Jason Nightingale, Matt Dufty, Blake Lawrie, Luciano Leilua and Cameron McInnes to have re-signed with the Dragons over the past 12 months.

    Joe Lovodua promoted to development squad

    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/02/15/kerr-lovodua-re-sign-with-the-red-v/
     
  16. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Origin debut still well within reach for Sims
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    BLUE HORIZON: The State of Origin selection fire still burns for Dragons forward Tariq Sims ahead of his eighth NRL season. Picture: Adam McLean
    DRAGONS forward Tariq Sims is confident a switch back to the edge at club level can reboot his push for a maiden NSW jumper in 2018.

    Sims’ progression to the State of Origin arena looked very much a matter of when, not if, when he burst on the scene with North Queensland in 2011.

    He was called into the Blues squad that season before twice breaking his leg in the space of seven games, putting the hand brake on his rep ambitions.

    Injury and suspension also led to a frustrating one and a half seasons in Newcastle before a mid-season switch to the Dragons in 2016.

    It allowed the likes of Tyson Frizell, Josh Jackson and Wade Graham to leapfrog Sims in the pecking order, but the 29-year-old is adamant the selection bus hasn’t passed him by.

    “You look at a guy like Corey Parker, he got better with age,” Sims said.

    “Obviously he was exceptionally durable but I believe, if you’re playing good enough football, you deserve to be there.

    “It’s still a huge burning desire for me. With the change of coach hopefully there’s a shake-up in the playing roster and [NSW coach Brad Fittler] might bring in some different players of age and experience.

    “It’s 100 per cent on my to-do list over the next one or two years, to get a few games in and hopefully be in the mix to be able to go out there and test myself in the toughest game in rugby league.”

    They were career-threatening at the time, but the Gerringong product says the early struggles, and long hours in the rehab room, have fueled him a through another grueling preseason.

    “Things happen for a reason, I don’t dwell on anything, I don’t regret anything” he said.

    “Sometimes you get dealt some crappy cards. That’s life. How you come back and how you respond to those tough times shows what type of person you really are.

    “It’s one of the things that keeps me going during preseason, that you could be stuck in a rehab room staring at four walls doing it by yourself.

    “You could also be working and digging holes for 10 hours a day. All those things encourage you to go a bit harder, it’s what keeps me motivated.”

    Having spent the bulk of his time at the Dragons as a middle forward, Sims has also set his sights on the left edge spot vacated by the departed Joel Thompson.

    “I want that left-edge, 100 per cent,” he said.

    “Wherever Mary [coach Paul McGregor] needs me, I’m willing to go. That’s how much I respect him and love playing for him, but deep down I want that left back-row spot and I’ll do anything to make it mine.”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/...but-still-well-within-reach-for-sims/?cs=3713
     
  17. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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  18. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Beefed up roster leaves McGregor confident ahead of 2018 season
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    CONFIDENT: Paul McGregor calls the shots at Dragons training. Picture: Adam McLean

    IT’S taken the best part of four years, but St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor finally has the roster he wants heading into the 2018 season.

    McGregor will begin his fourth campaign as head coach in Saturday’s trial clash with Hull at ANZ Stadium, with new faces Ben Hunt and James Graham to have their first outing in Dragons colours.

    The pair of Internationals put the finishing touch on a roster several seasons in the making since McGregor took the reins from former coach Steve Price midway through 2014.

    His ascension to the head-coaching role came amid a salary cap squeeze that ultimately saw local juniors Trent Merrin and Brett Morris depart the club as part of a dramatic roster overhaul.

    Contract talks and roster instability have been a constant headache in the ensuing two seasons but McGregor is confident his current squad is the best he’s had at his disposal.

    “I think it’s the best roster we’ve had in my time here,” McGregor said.

    “As a head coach it does take you probably three years to get the roster you want unless you inherit a very good one that are currently in the top four to six sides in the competition.

    “We weren’t that when I started back in ‘14 and the start of ‘15. I feel now I’ve got a roster I’m totally comfortable with.

    “I think our balance of youth and experience is good with the nine debutants we’ve had in the last two years. They’re a good age, they’re into their second and third preseason which is great.

    “With the addition of the two Internationals in Ben and James, as well as bringing in some experience into that middle part of the field, I feel this squad is the best one we’ve had for quite some time.”

    McGregor will be hoping the added experience can arrest the late-season fade-outs that have been the club’s achilles heel in recent years and dramatically cost it a finals berth in 2017.

    “We exceeded the critics expectations to start they year but we didn’t live up to our own at the back end of the year," McGregor said.

    “We’ve got to be consistent for a longer period. We did lead the competition, and we were in the top four in round 14, but we didn’t finish strong enough.

    “Two out of the [last] three years we’ve been in the top four past the halfway mark of the competition so it’s about maintaining that standard, regardless of the opposition we play, on a weekly basis.

    “We dropped five games to teams that finished below us and that’s not good enough. For us, it’s about closing that gap between our best and our worst and being consistent on a weekly basis.

    “I feel we’ve got the squad to do that now with depth in important positions.”

    McGregor said new-look halves Ben Hunt and Gareth Widdop will get between 40 and 50 minutes of action against Hull, in what will be there first hit-out as a pair.

    “I think that combination will grow as the season goes on,” McGregor said.

    “Benny’s a genuine [number] seven. He likes to play on the ball and likes to run the footy, he a dominant kicker, which will take a lot of pressure away from Gaz.

    “I feel Gaz is one of the best instinctive players in the game and he’s got bottomless talent so he’ll be released to do that instead of looking to organise a footy team.

    “That’ll be up to Ben to execute the game plan so I’ll be looking for those few things from him [on Saturday].”

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/...regor-confident-ahead-of-2018-season/?cs=3713
     
  19. Reddragon

    Reddragon Juniors

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    Next year's article:
    "IT’S taken the best part of five years, but St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor finally has the roster he wants heading into the 2019 season."
     
    SEAT 1A likes this.
  20. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Sims ready to reclaim starting role
    Author
    Chris Kennedy
    Timestamp
    Fri 16 Feb 2018, 02:51 PM

    Hard-hitting St George Illawarra Dragons back-rower Tariq Sims believes he's paid his dues as a bench impact weapon and is now ready to reclaim the starting jersey vacated by the Manly-bound Joel Thompson.

    The former Cowboys and Knights forward also reckons he's putting up the best numbers of his career in the gym and gotten on top of the rehab required for his twice-broken left leg.

    Sims started four matches at the end of 2017 played a full 80 minutes in three of those, having started just three of 20 games in 2017 (and one of eight in 2016) prior to that.

    "Last year was one of those years where my role in the team was to come off the bench which was never that easy too because I've played so many games starting," Sims told NRL.com.

    "That's what was needed. 'Mary' (coach Paul McGregor) asked me, put it to me as a challenge and I like to think I accepted that challenge and excelled in it.

    "At the back end of the year I started a few games which was great and a bit of an extra reward but on the back of this pre-season [I'll be] starting and I'm looking forward to getting back into the back row."

    Strength-wise, conditioning-wise this is probably the best I've gone into a season since I was a 20-year-old...

    Tariq Sims
    While left edge (in place of Thompson and alongside five-eighth Gareth Widdop) shapes as Sims' spot to start the season he stressed he was just as comfortable on the right if needed should Tyson Frizell be unavailable or have to move to the middle of the field and is also able to play middle himself.

    "I've played over 100 first grade games at back row so I'm very comfortable there, that's where I cut my teeth and it's the position that I knew," Sims continued.

    "The only reason I played in the middle was Mary thought it would be a good change-up for me to go in the middle and he challenged me to go in there. I accepted that challenge and I like to think I did my best.

    "If for some reason Friz is in the middle or Friz is injured or out or on rep duty or what have you, if I'm asked to go over to the right side it's not foreign to me. I'm gearing up for a big year, I've put a lot of expectations on myself, it's a pre-season where statistically-wise I've excelled in every area in training so I'm pretty excited for the year to start."

    Asked to elaborate on those areas, Sims said: "Beep test, conditioning, times, weights, lifts. Everything. Strength-wise, conditioning-wise this is probably the best I've gone into a season since I was a 20-year-old fresh out of Brisbane (where he played in the under-20s).

    [​IMG]
    Dragons forward Tariq Sims. :copyright:Shane Myers/NRL Photos
    "I still don't feel like I've reached that limit there with my body. We're still rehabbing with my leg, that's something I know I'm going to have to deal with for the rest of my career. Once you get your head around that the sky's the limit.

    "There's no issues, I'm just saying before training I have to go out and warm up and make sure everything in my ankle and leg are activated through the warm up before I go out and train because I feel personally if I don't do that then I won't be able to get the best out of my training sessions."

    Sims has been named in the trial squad to face Hull FC on Saturday night and is expected to start in what will be his first on-field chance to really stake a claim to the role.

    Previewing the match, McGregor said all 24 names on the trial team sheet would be used and most of the big names could expect a solid stint of 30 minutes or more.

    McGregor nominated left-side back row as a spot that had not yet been settled, with the trials to present the candidates an opportunity.

    "Joel Thompson's not here so it's opened that left back row position," McGregor said on Friday.

    "Tariq and Luce (Luciano Leilua) and [Jacob] Host are in the running for that. Tariq's a senior player and the other two guys have had some experience in first grade, they've all had good pre-seasons."

    https://www.nrl.com/news/2018/02/16/sims-ready-to-reclaim-starting-role/
     

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