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

  1. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    [​IMG]





    STATE OF ORIGIN


    Four Dragons named in NSW squad
    Author
    Jack Brady
    Timestamp
    Mon 28 May 2018, 06:41 PM

    St George Illawarra quartet Tyson Frizell, Jack de Belin, Paul Vaughan and Tariq Sims have all been named in New South Wales' 19-man squad ahead of Origin I on Wednesday, June 6.

    Jack de Belin and Paul Vaughan are two of 11 players set to make their State of Origin debuts at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, while Frizell is one of only six incumbents included following the Blues' 2017 series-deciding Game Three last year.

    Tariq Sims meanwhile will serve as New South Wales' 18th man.

    News of the four Dragons' inclusion for the Blues follows halfback Ben Hunt's selection for Queensland earlier on Monday.

    New South Wales State of Origin squad team:

    1. James Tedesco - Sydney Roosters
    2. Tom Trbojevic - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
    3. Latrell Mitchell - Sydney Roosters
    4. James Roberts - Brisbane Broncos
    5. Josh Addo-Carr - Melbourne Storm
    6. James Maloney - Penrith Panthers
    7. Nathan Cleary - Penrith Panthers
    8. David Klemmer - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
    9. Damien Cook - South Sydney Rabbitohs
    10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard - Penrith Panthers
    11. Boyd Cordner (c) - Sydney Roosters
    12. Tyson Frizell - St George Illawarra Dragons
    13. Jack de Belin - St George Illawarra Dragons

    Interchange:
    14. Paul Vaughan - St George Illawarra Dragons
    15. Jake Trbojevic - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
    16. Angus Crichton - South Sydney Rabbitohs
    17. Tyrone Peachey - Penrith Panthers
    18. Tariq Sims - St George Illawarra Dragons
    19. Nick Cotric - Canberra Raiders


    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/05/28/four-dragons-named-in-nsw-squad/
     
  2. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Hunt to face off against Vaughan, Frizell, De Belin in Origin
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    Showdown: Ben Hunt. Picture: John Veage

    The marquee signing.

    The $6 million man.

    The Dragons’ great hope, even if he limped off in a crushing loss to a Penrith outfit featuring the NSW halves duo Nathan Cleary and James Maloney.

    Well, sorry Ben Hunt, for the next couple of months you’re public enemy No.1.

    Dragons fans love what you’ve done with the place since arriving, taking the team to the top of the NRL ladder, or at least a share of after the Panthers loss.

    But the Illawarra is also rugby league and Blues heartland – so we don’t take kindly to that Maroons jumper you’ll be wearing and the more than decade-long oppression we’ve had to endure. On Monday, Queensland coach Kevin Walters dismissed whispers about Hunt being used at halfback, instead acknowledging his irresistible Dragons form and handing the ex-Broncos playmaker the No.7 jersey.

    Hunt is now the commander-in-chief of leading Queensland beyond the Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston era, as NSW hope the nightmare of losing 11 of the past 12 series is over.

    Hunt suffered a thigh cork and struggled before coming off early as Penrith beat the Dragons 28-2 in the top-of-the-table showdown.

    “I’m very confident he’ll be right,” Walters said.

    “We’ve had some conversations with Ben. Obviously he’s got a bit of work in front of him to get his injury right. It’s some sort of cork.

    “I’ve really liked working with Ben when I was at the Broncos. I can see the skill level and the desire in Ben to become a really good halfback. We’ve seen that progression, especially this year at the Dragons and I expect that to continue at the next level for Queensland.”

    While Brad Fittler was announcing huge changes in Sydney, Walters was also prepared to reward form by naming Valentine Holmes on the wing and dumping 2010 Dragons Clive Churchill Medal winner Darius Boyd, as well as Test prop Matt Scott.

    Tyson Frizell will start on the right edge for NSW, with Jack de Belin named at lock and Paul Vaughan on the bench. Second-rower Tariq Sims has been chosen as 18th man, with Canberra’s Nick Cotric 19th man.

    Hooker Cameron McInnes missed out, as Fittler went for Helensburgh’s Damien Cook, who becomes one of the great State of Origin stories, after playing just a handful of games at the Dragons and Bulldogs, before making his name at the Rabbitohs, when chosen ahead of former NSW No.9 Robbie Farah.

    [​IMG]
    Blue era: NSW forward Paul Vaughan during a session in Sydney on Monday. Picture: NRL Images/Grant Trouville


    https://www.illawarramercury.com.au...mmates-become-best-of-origin-enemies/?cs=3713
     
  3. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    STATE OF ORIGIN


    Hunt handed keys to Maroons castle
    Author
    Joel Gould
    Timestamp
    Mon 28 May 2018, 03:30 PM

    New Maroons half Ben Hunt has been told it is "his team" to run as Queensland selectors urge the new members of the spine to own the positions for the next six years.

    A tally of 101 games of Origin experience walked out the door with the representative retirements of Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith over the last 12 months.

    Origin debutant and Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough and halves combination Cameron Munster and Hunt, with two Origin games between them, were unveiled in the key spine positions at the Maroons team announcement at the XXXX Brewery in Brisbane on Monday.

    Titans forward Jai Arrow and Storm forward Felise Kaufusi will also make their Queensland debuts in Game One of the Holden State of Origin series on June 6 at the MCG.

    Queensland chairman of selectors Gene Miles urged Munster, Hunt and McCullough to grab their golden chance to pin down long-term Origin careers.

    "The guys that have retired have over 100 Origin games between them and these guys in their early days can hopefully settle in those positions for the next six years," Miles said.

    Walters names Origin I team

    "They are so important the seven, six and nine these days. They have it all in front of them and we just hope they grab this with both hands and run with it.

    "They have to step up. There is no more JT, no more Cooper Cronk and no more Cameron. This day was unfortunately coming at some stage, and here we are."

    Hunt is set to be the lynchpin in the Maroons side.

    "It will basically be Hunty's team and Kevvie [Walters] has told him that," Miles said.

    "He's been doing a very good job for St George and we want that to transition into State of Origin footy. His kicking game is vastly improved and he will be required to kick ... and do some organising as well."

    The long-standing combination between McCullough and Hunt is set to be crucial, Miles said.

    "They have been playing footy together for 15 years and not only that, they are besties. So their understanding obviously came into calculations as well," Miles said.

    "That is always beneficial on the footy field when you know what [the other] is thinking."

    Hunt did not finish the clash with the Penrith Panthers on Saturday night due to a leg cork, but coach Walters said he was "very confident that he will be right".

    "It is some sort of cork but we believe he will be fine and do a great job for Queensland," Walters said.

    "I really enjoyed working with Ben at the Broncos and I could see the skill level and the desire in Ben to become a really good halfback.

    "We have seen that progression this year at the Dragons and I expect that to continue at the next level for Queensland."

    Broncos captain Darius Boyd missed selection after 28 Origin games for Queensland, with Valentine Holmes and 2017 player of the series Dane Gagai preferred on the wings.

    Veteran front-rower Matt Scott also was overlooked after 22 appearances for Queensland, with Dylan Napa and Jarrod Wallace preferred as starting props.

    "The worst part of my job is ringing those players [like Darius Boyd and Matt Scott] and letting them know they're not in the team," Walters said.

    "Matt Scott for mine needs to play some more football yet. I said to him by no means is he out of the picture and he can play a role in this Origin series."

    More than 55,000 tickets have been sold for the series opener, with a crowd in excess of 80,000 expected.

    Ponga will join Maroons camp

    Maroons team for game one: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Valentine Holmes, 3 Greg Inglis (c), 4 Will Chambers, 5 Dane Gagai, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Ben Hunt, 8 Dylan Napa, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Jarrod Wallace, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Felise Kaufusi, 13 Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14 Michael Morgan, 15 Josh Papalii, 16 Coen Hess, 17 Jai Arrow

    Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Tickets available at NRL.com/tickets.

    Maroons Out For Blood!

    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/05/29/hunt-handed-keys-to-maroons-castle/
     
  4. getsmarty

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    De Belin's rise from choirboy to Blues enforcer
    Author
    Dan Walsh
    Timestamp
    Tue 29 May 2018, 06:00 PM

    A decade after first experiencing State of Origin as a choirboy, Jack de Belin will finally take centre stage as the Blues' newest engine room enforcer.

    De Belin's maiden encounter with the interstate arena came as a teenager while attending famed rugby league nursery St Gregory's at Campbelltown – where NSW teammate James Tedesco also cut his teeth along with a five-star Origin alumni that includes Trent Barrett, Ryan Hoffman, Jason Taylor and Eric Grothe jnr.

    But while schoolmates Alex McKinnon, Matt Groat and Jack Stockwell were all being welcomed into the NSW fold in an under 16s curtain-raiser, de Belin was wearing maroon and hitting the high notes as part of the pre-game entertainment before Origin I, 2008.

    "I was at St Gregs Campbelltown, I was a boarder there and sung in the choir," de Belin grins when asked about his first Origin game as a spectator.

    "We sung the national anthem and 'you raise me up', I was in there.

    "I'm a year older than [McKinnon and co] so I was 17, they were 16. I didn't make any rep teams when I was at Gregs. I went in there with a couple of mates and you just had to sing.

    "We had pretty decent seats, they weren't bad. I remember both [the singing and the game]. I remember Anthony Quinn scored a try that game."

    [​IMG]
    Jack de Belin in his high school choir at the first State of Origin game of 2008.
    Quinn actually scored a double on debut as the Blues bagged a surprise 18-10 victory in Craig Bellamy's first game as coach, but Queensland still made off with the series as they have done in all bar one of the past 12 seasons.

    For much of that period de Belin has been toiling away as one of the more under-rated customers in the Telstra Premiership.

    As recruitment boss of Canterbury 10 years ago, Peter Mulholland had the tip that this kid from Cootamundra was the toughest of a talented troop coming off the St Gregorys production line.

    But a broken leg during his final year of school meant he missed the NRL cut, returned to Cootamundra and played bush footy until McKinnon had a word to then-Dragons assistant coach Steve Price.

    He's come a long way from anonymously running around without a contract at Red V training that first summer in Wollongong to being watched from every angle by the massive media contingent at the NSW camp on Tuesday.

    The 27-year-old moved without any obvious discomfort from the "irritating" hip injury that has required pain-killing injections in recent weeks to keep him on the paddock.

    [​IMG]
    Blues forward Jack de Belin. :copyright:Grant Trouville/NRL Photos
    De Belin is the oldest of 11 Blues rookies and trumped only by 31-year-old veteran James Maloney across the entire team in terms of age.

    He was in the NSW camp last year in Laurie Daley's extended squads and was 18th man for the decider at Suncorp Stadium.

    With the Dragons riding high at the top of the ladder and de Belin in impressive form, he admits fearing that if the chance to trade his old maroon school blazer for the sky blue didn't come this year, then that long-ago choir performance may have been as close as he would get.

    "I kind of had the assumption this was my year," de Belin said.

    "If I didn’t make it this year I was never going to make it. Not that that’s [entirely] correct, but I’ve been on the verge for a couple of years and my name has been tossed up and have been in camp as 18th man.

    "Anyone knows that has ever played with me or trained with me knows that I’m definitely suited to [Origin]. It was just about letting the selectors see that. This year I’ve stepped it up a little bit and certain aspects of my game are suited for Origin being such a physical game."



    Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Bronze tickets available from $49 here.


    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/05/29/de-belins-rise-from-choirboy-to-blues-enforcer/
     
  5. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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  6. getsmarty

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    Vaughan Honoured To Be A Part Of New Era
    Brad Fittler has picked 11 debutants to represent the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues next Wednesday, and Vaughan is honoured to be a part of that.
     
  8. getsmarty

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    KICKOFF: Time to reboot for spent Dragons
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    WELL EARNED: The Dragons have earned a spell with their 9-3 start to the year. Picture: AAP

    THERE’D be no one more relieved to have hit the bye week than Dragons coach Paul McGregor.

    His side has been up for a long time over the first 12 weeks and that became evident last Saturday night against Penrith.

    Credit to the Panthers, they were outstanding, but people feeling the Dragons big loss amounted to a bursting of their bubble might want to hold fire.

    Certainly Penrith were good, and the Dragons off the pace, but a look at their respective paths to the match showed the Panthers were always going to be more up for what was their first genuine big game of the year – one versus two – at home.

    Leading in they’d beaten the Eels (16th) twice, split games with the Bulldogs (14th) and Cowboys (15th) and beaten the Knights (11th) and Titans (12th). They played just three games against top eight opposition, losing to Cronulla (4th) and beating the Rabbitohs (3rd) and Tigers (8th).

    In comparison, the Dragons have played just three teams outside the top eight. They’ve beaten Cronulla (4th) twice, gone 1-1 with the Rabbitohs (third) and beaten defending premiers Melbourne (6th).

    They were edged out by the Warriors (5th), who were 6-1, in New Zealand before beating the Roosters (6th) in the always big Anzac Day clash four days later.

    Both sides belong where they are, but put it in context.


    https://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/5440640/kickoff-time-to-reboot-for-spent-dragons/?cs=3713
     
  10. getsmarty

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    [​IMG]


    STATE OF ORIGIN


    Origin rookie Vaughan's life support care
    Author
    Dan Walsh
    Timestamp
    Thu 31 May 2018, 06:01 PM

    From life support in the ICU, to the Origin debut of a lifetime at the MCG.

    Along the way Paul Vaughan has packed on the pounds required for a career in rugby league's most intimidating environment.

    But only after brushing off an experience that would scare the proverbial out of any teen and their family.

    Coming through the Raiders ranks as an 18-year-old, Vaughan took the ball to the line for his junior club Gungahlin Bulls.

    His left leg went one way, his body the other, and Vaughan's tibia and fibula both broke in two, with plenty present in the crowd that day swearing they could hear the snap from the sideline.

    Not until Vaughan went under the knife though, with mum Patricia O'Rourke by his side, did things really turn nasty.

    "There was a little bit of a complication," Vaughan says.

    "I had a fat embolism floating up on my lung and collapsed my lung. I was on life support in the ICU for a couple of days, which was a tough period.

    "It's not common but it does happen. It was [dangerous]. It was a long time ago but mum was a bit nervous. But I've come out the other side obviously."

    Cook's journey from unwanted hooker to NSW No.9

    Mum just happened to be a nurse in the same Canberra hospital, and refused to leave her son's side throughout the ordeal.

    From that horrific hospital tale Vaughan finds one hell of a silver lining, starting with the best KFC he reckons he's ever eaten.

    "It was pretty brutal, but I got out of there, I lost a lot of weight out of hospital - about 10 kilos," he remembers.

    "That was the first time that I've been down around 95 kilos. [Since] putting it on I've been about 110-116 kilos, that's about the best weight for me to be carrying.

    "I did heaps of rehab, heaps of weights and that kind of stuff. I was just eating a lot of carbs. That is when I got into the front-row, packed on a little bit of weight."

    After nine months in rehab and a good paddock, Vaughan returned to Canberra's under 20s system and the path that leads to next Wednesday's series opener.

    Slated for a debut off Brad Fittler's bench in front of 80,000-plus at Australia's most famed sporting colosseum, Vaughan will do so as the 1000th player to pull on the sky blue for NSW.

    A 2013 World Cup stint with Italy and three eye-catching seasons with Canberra had Vaughan mentioned in previous Origin conversations.

    But when Ricky Stuart's bevvy of big men saw Vaughan surprisingly shuffled to Mounties and eventually off to the Dragons, higher honours were the furthest thing from his mind.

    "Down in Canberra playing reserve grade, did I think of playing State of Origin? No, I don't think so," Vaughan laughs.

    "The reason I left was because of the salary cap. I thought I was playing good football down in Canberra but that's just what happens.

    Dancing with the Blues

    "I was getting forced out there and had to play a couple of games through reserve grade, but that happens.

    "There's a lot of players that go through their careers that have to play reserve grade at one point. I knew that I was a first-grader.

    "I knew I had a lot to prove. I went to Saints, did that, cemented that and it's just gone up from there.

    "Moving up to Saints was probably the best thing I've done in my career.

    "My football has come on in leaps and bounds and now I'm playing Origin which is the coolest thing that I've been a part of."



    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/06/01/origin-rookie-vaughans-life-support-care/
     
  11. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Ben Hunt says leaving Red Hill to wear the Red V has given him the confidence to lead Maroons
    AAP
    June 1, 2018 5:07pm
    HALFBACK Ben Hunt never wanted to leave Brisbane - but he is sure glad he did.

    New Queensland No.7 Hunt says he has the confidence to step up and make the Maroons “his team” in next week’s State of Origin opener thanks to a lucrative move to NRL club St George Illawarra this year.

    The long serving Bronco’s decision to sign with the Dragons appeared a no brainer after they offered Hunt a five year, $6 million deal. But Hunt said he was reluctant to sever his eight year Broncos stint despite admitting it had at times tested his self belief.



    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Ben Hunt gives update on injury
    “I never really wanted to leave the Broncos when it comes down to it,” Hunt said.

    “But I was excited about it as well, a new challenge.

    “I had been here a long time and it was a change I thought could spark my game and take me to another level and I feel like it has done that.”

    Hunt will make his debut in the Maroons No.7 jersey in Wednesday night’s Origin I at the MCG after staking a claim as the NRL’s form halfback thanks to a dream start with his new club.

    [​IMG]
    Ben Hunt has found another gear since moving to St George Illawarra. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
    It is in contrast to Hunt’s rollercoaster Broncos ride since his 2009 debut. His fortunes were best summed up last year when he was relegated to Queensland Cup reserve grade in June, only to make his Origin debut off the bench a month later.

    Asked if there were times his Broncos stint tested his self belief, Hunt said: “There definitely has been.

    “There have been some up and down stages in my career.

    “I played Queensland Cup last year so there have been some down stages there but you have to get back to trying to enjoy your footy.

    “And when people start believing in you, you start to get confidence.”

    [​IMG]
    Being demoted to Ipswich while still with the Broncos shook Hunt’s confidence. Pic Tim Marsden
    Queensland begin life without halfback Cooper Cronk and fellow retired Maroons greats Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith on Wednesday night. Hunt said he felt ready to answer coach Kevin Walters’ challenge and make the Maroons “his team”.

    “I do, it (take control) is the role of the halfback these days,” he said. “It’s been something I have been developing in my game for a few years now.

    “I am grateful Kevvie believes in me and has given me an opportunity to do it - I will work hard this week to get it done.”

    Hunt was confident of overcoming a thigh injury and combining with Cameron Munster in the halves in Melbourne.

    Hunt appeared restricted wearing a thigh guard while on light duties at Queensland’s Gold Coast training session on Thursday, taking part in the final 10 minutes.


    http://www.ntnews.com.au/sport/ben-...k=38e26ce16deb998801bd3fbcda659030-1527899934
     
  12. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Will the Dragons cope without their stars?

    By Brad Thorne, 2 Jun 2018

    Over the first 12 rounds of the 2018 NRL season the St George Illawarra Dragons 2018 have set the benchmark for the competition.

    Showing an entertaining attacking style while remaining hard-nosed and resilient has seen the Dragons sit atop the ladder from the early rounds, and as we enter the representative and bye rounds, the Dragons sit equal first on points with the Penrith Panthers.

    There is no denying that to this point in the season the Red V have looked every part a premiership threat, but with the looming selection of a host of key players for their state or country coupled with a ‘tricky’ draw over the next 4-6 games, the Dragons may face an uphill battle to maintain their status as premiership favourites.

    The heartbeat of the Dragons 2018 side has been their tireless forwards turning up week in, week out and grinding opposition packs out of the contest. The work rate of players like James Graham and Jack De Belin combined with high-impact plays from the likes of Tyson Frizell, Paul Vaughan, and Tariq Sims has been the cornerstone of the Dragons game early in the season.

    Off the back of the forward momentum and platform provided, classy halves pairing Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt appear to be playing with confidence and poise. The combination of tough forward play and creative halves has provided plenty of opportunity for strike weapons Matt Dufty, Tim Lafai and Euan Aitken to showcase their attacking ability.

    A big part of the dragons success has obviously come due to the form of key players in their side, but with good individual form comes recognition and call-up for representative honours. So it will be bitter-sweet for the Dragons club to see so many of their form players play at both state and country level.

    [​IMG]
    (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    Before the State of Origin sides were named on Monday, pundits had as many as seven Dragons players pencilled into respective state sides. Unfortunately for Tariq Sims, Euan Aitken and Cameron McInnes, they were overlooked. But a trio of forwards including Paul Vaughan, Tyson Frizell, Jack De Belin were selected in Brad Fittler’s Blues line-up, while Ben Hunt will wear the number seven for Kevin Walters’ Maroons.

    Another representative game will be played in the coming weeks with New Zealand taking on the England national side in Denver, USA. The Dragons can expect to be without Gareth Widdop and James Graham, who will take their place in the Wayne Bennett-coached England team. Legendary clubman and prolific try-scorer Jason Nightingale could also find himself on a plane to Denver with new coach Michael Maguire’s Kiwi side.

    With a total player count of seven starters missing from the team at various times over the next month or so, the Dragons depth and roster quality will certainly be questioned and may consequently decide where they finish on the ladder come September.

    A player who can expect plenty of responsibility during this period is utility Kurt Mann. Mann has filled a number of roles for the Dragons since joining in 2016 but has ultimately failed to lock down a starting position. It’s a safe bet that Mann will secure plenty of minutes over the next few games and could even take control of the side in the halves.

    The ever-reliable Leeson Ah Mau should run out in the starting forward pack to fill a void left by those playing in sky blue. Ah Mau has been in great form from the interchange bench in 2018 and will look to continue.

    Another man who will shoulder responsibility in the engine room is journeyman Jeremy Latimore. Latimore is another interchange forward to who has played an important role for the Red V in 2018. He will need to rely on every bit of experience he posses to keep the Dragons forward pack on a roll.

    Young forwards Hame Sele, Jacob Host and Luciano Leilua could also see more game time as coach Paul McGregor will look to negotiate a tricky draw over the next few rounds.

    Off the back of a devastating loss to the Penrith Panthers, the Dragons have a bye in Round 13 followed by an away clash against the Bulldogs and games against Manly, Parramatta, Melbourne and the Tigers. While this may seem a relatively easy draw – I don’t believe there are any easy games in the NRL – with only one top-eight opponent, sides like Parramatta and the Bulldogs have little more to play for in 2018 than pride. Recent seasons have proven that teams in this position are dangerous opponents and quite often impact the final make-up of the top eight

    I believe that while the players would be disappointed, the fact that hooker Cameron McInnes, strike weapon Euan Aitken and inspirational back-rower Tariq Sims were all overlooked for rep honours is a blessing for McGregor’s Dragons.

    Along with plenty of depth in their forward pack and a simple game plan, this should be enough to see the Dragons through this period and remain firmly implanted in the top four by the time their stars return from rep duty.

    https://www.theroar.com.au/2018/06/02/will-dragons-cope-without-stars/
     
  13. getsmarty

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  14. getsmarty

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    STATE OF ORIGIN


    Frizell relishing big brother role with Cleary
    Author
    Tanisha Stanton
    Timestamp
    Fri 1 Jun 2018, 06:01 PM

    NSW back-rower Tyson Frizell will play a bodyguard role for Origin rookie Nathan Cleary and a right-side back-line that is full of fresh faces.

    The Maroons will send the likes of Gavin Cooper and Greg Inglis towards Frizell's edge in next week's series-opener and the 26-year-old feels it's on his shoulders to watch his young teammates' backs.

    "I'll be doing my best to look after everyone," Frizell said.

    "It's what you've got to do as a back-rower. You've got to look after your middle but make sure your halves and your edges are sweet.

    "There's always traffic defending next to a half. It's what teams are trying to do these days, target your main players, and I'm sure they'll be doing that.

    "If you can sort your numbers out and get everything right, you can be the one to stop tries from happening down on the wing."

    Frizell, who is rooming with 20-year-old Cleary, says he is enjoying getting to know the talented young half. He is vowed to do everything he can to protect him on Wednesday night.

    "I'm always doing my best to look after my half and playing against him at Penrith, he holds his own pretty well so it's good to have a half that can do that," Frizell said.

    [​IMG]
    Blues teammates Nathan Cleary (left) and Tyson Frizell. :copyright:Grant Trouville/NRL Photos
    "He's good (to room with). He's nice and quiet, he's a very respectful young kid and it's nice to room with someone you haven't met before. He's a great player and I look forward to playing alongside him."

    Running into traffic will be no different for Maroons halfback Ben Hunt.

    Frizell joked about how he is accustomed to having Hunt's back at the Dragons but says it will be a different story in game one at the MCG.

    "You want to target the players that do a lot in attack and Benny is on a roll at the moment so I'm sure the boys on the left-hand side will give him a lot of trouble," he said.

    "It's funny, I'm use to having Ben on my outside and trying to do my best to look after him but that goes all out the window on Wednesday. We will definitely be doing whatever we can to shut him down."

    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/06/02/Frizell-big-brother-Cleary/
     
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    STATE OF ORIGIN


    Hunt declares himself a certain Origin starter
    Author
    Joel Gould & Katie Brown
    Timestamp
    Fri 1 Jun 2018, 02:03 PM

    Ben Hunt has declared he will be fit and ready to play for the Queensland Maroons on Wednesday night after training strongly in a field session on Friday.

    The 28-year-old Maroons half has been battling a corked thigh and was moving gingerly on Thursday while wearing a guard on his leg.

    He came out for Friday's session and moved with fluency and on completing the session confirmed he was right to go for the opening match of the Holden State of Origin series in Melbourne on June 6.

    "I had a really good session today. I got through the whole session. I felt pretty good," Hunt said.

    "I am definitely playing. That was the main test today and I got through it comfortably, so I will only get better from here.

    "Kevvie [Walters] asked me how it went and I said I had no issues so we are all good."

    Hunt said the injury was getting better the more he trained, in a positive sign for the coming days.

    Maroons medicos have been working around the clock to get Hunt right to make what will be his starting debut for Queensland.

    "I was running freely actually. The warmer I got the better I got so it will only get better from here," Hunt said.

    "Yesterday was a big thing, just moving helped me free up the area. I iced it up last night and it felt a lot better today.

    "I've been having a couple of massages a day, the physios have been getting stuck into my leg and it's come up well.

    "I can't wait now, I'm looking forward to doing the best I can next week."

    The Maroons have the day off on Saturday and will train again on Sunday.

    Coach Kevin Walters told NRL.com he would make the final call then but shared Hunt's optimism.

    "He's heading in the right direction," Walters said.

    "We'll make a final decision on Sunday. He looks to be in good shape."

    Anthony Milford had been training with the Maroons but Queensland forward said Hunt was vital to the Maroons. He said Hunt had proven he could come into the side and make a difference.

    "I don't think we had a Plan B so I think Hunt's playing," Cooper grinned.

    "A few of the boys came into camp to help us out and obviously Milf has played Origin before so he knows what it is all about.

    "Hunty only got a couple of games in game three last year but he's not coming in to be Cooper Cronk. Everyone talks about big shoes to fill and it is the same with Macca.

    "Macca is coming in to give his best impression of himself. He's not coming in to be Cameron Smith. I don't think anyone is ever going to be another Cameron Smith and no-one is going to be another Cooper Cronk, so both those boys are in there on their own merit and they will do fine."

    Maroons prop Jarrod Wallace agreed it would take more than a cork to stop Hunt.

    "Ben Hunt will play," he said.

    "He ran around with us today. I can tell you now he would have a broken leg and still go out and play. It's just a cork, he had a full session today and went fine."

    Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Bronze tickets available from $49 here.


    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/06/02/hunt-declares-himself-a-certain-origin-starter/
     
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    WOMEN'S RUGBY LEAGUE


    Bremner named National Championships MVP following Country NSW win
    Author
    Alicia Newton
    Timestamp
    Sun 3 Jun 2018, 03:07 PM

    NSW Country have won the Harvey Norman National Championships, storming home with two late tries to snatch a 16-12 victory over arch-rivals NSW City in the final at Owen Park on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

    A solo try to City halfback Maddie Studdon in the second half broke an 8-8 deadlock but the Country side rallied to level the scores before Ngalika Barker crashed her way over in the corner with a minute remaining.

    Country were forced to field an understrength line-up, a result of having played three matches in as many days.

    NSW Origin coach Ben Cross will have concerns over several players leading into the women's Holden State of Origin on June 22 with Country fullback Nakia Davis Welsh (ankle) leaving the field in the first half.

    Kezie Apps withdrew pre-game with an undisclosed injury, believed to be minor, following the star's workload concerns over the previous two days.

    Already without Ruan Sims with a possible fractured arm, the side were also missing Rikeya Horne through concussion.

    NSW City drew first blood to cross in the seventh minute with a cut-out pass from Rebecca Riley finding Quincy Dodd out wide for the winger to go over in the corner – her fifth try in three games at the Championships.

    [​IMG]
    Action from the NSW City v NSW Country match. :copyright:Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos
    Both sides were guilty of errors in the middle of the first half but Country clicked into gear in the 18th minute with skipper Sam Bremner delivering a 20-metre pass to the chest of Shakiah Tungai who strolled over in the corner.

    Bremner capped off the victory - and a return from injury - by later being named player of the tournament.

    City took seven minutes to respond with Lavina O'Mealey charging her way over from close range to take back the lead 8-4.

    That advantage was quickly matched by Country as the see-sawing contest continued before the break with Kyara Nean carrying three defenders over the line to go into the half-time break even before a frantic second half saw Country come out on top.

    "The girls were outstanding," NSW Country coach Matt Parish told NRL.com.

    "To have that many players on the sidelines and to win is a massive effort. We've had two hard games in a row and then to back it up today and beat a quality team is outstanding.

    "We didn't have an 18th player available so I'm more happy for the younger girls. I can't give the senior leaders enough of a rap, they were unbelievable, but those names we aren't too familiar with really stood up when we needed them to."

    Injured players - understood to be upwards of at least six regulars in contention for NSW - will be monitored or sent for scans over the next week.

    Of greater concern is the injury to Sims, who remained tight-lipped on Sunday despite a cast and heavy bandaging around her forearm, while Davis-Welsh was seen on crutches and icing her ankle post-game after landing awkwardly in a tackle.

    In the other playoff matches on Sunday, Queensland Country come from behind to beat Queensland City 22-20 in a thriller.

    It was a high-quality performance from both Queensland teams after a disappointing campaign.

    Maroons coach Jason Hetherington would have been pleased with the response from the women in calculations for Origin after both sides missed the final, while the core of last year's Queensland squad got through the tournament unscathed.

    A try to Ali Brigginshaw with eight minutes remaining levelled the scores at 16-16 before a late four-pointer to had City leading by an unconverted try with less than a minute remaining.

    A short kick-off from Country turned successful and the ball was sent through several sets of hands out wide to Kodi House who dived over in the corner.

    Chelsea Baker nailed the sideline conversion after the siren to steal a 22-20 win.

    Meanwhile, the Australian Defence Force recorded their first win of the tournament with a 12-4 victory over the Combined Affiliated States side in the playoff for fifth position.



    Holden Women's State of Origin is ready kick-off a new era in elite women's sport. Witness the spirit of Origin manifest on the iconic North Sydney Oval on Friday, June 22. Tickets available now!


    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/201...-championships-mvp-following-country-nsw-win/
     
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  18. getsmarty

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    The Sniper: How the influence of a UFC star made Jack de Belin into an Origin hitman
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    During summer, Jack de Belin sat down and had a meeting with himself.

    “I wouldn’t say I had an epiphany but I had a good think about it: I didn’t want to be making tackles but dominating tackles,” the St George Illawarra lock said. “Defence has always been the strongest aspect of my game. So I started doing a lot of work in the pre-season with James Te Huna.”

    Te Huna is the UFC veteran from New Zealand who retired from the sport two years ago and has been working with the Dragons this season on wrestling techniques fundamental to the modern game.

    With de Belin, his influence goes deeper. He doesn’t want him to wrestle opponents. He wants him to take them out.

    “My method of attacking them is you come in with a big f..king sword, no shield, and you cut the person down,” Te Huna said. “That’s what you do. I’ve given him a nickname: I call him ‘The Sniper’. When he puts someone in his sights, he takes them out. He nails them. He hurts them. He just takes them out.”

    De Belin has been such an effective assassin for the Dragons that NSW had little choice but to hire him to take out a few Queenslanders in Origin I at the MCG on Wednesday night.

    “He’s got such strong posture, strong hip control, great head position … he slices people in half,” Te Huna continued. “When he’s about make the tackle he looks straight through them and tries to cut them in half.”

    Says de Belin: “I’d never made a tackle above the hips my whole career until I came to the Dragons where they teach you to come together and wrestle. It’s easy to get coached out of your natural tackling technique but I’ve managed to keep it there. Obviously, you can’t tackle like that every single tackle, but when I get the chance I definitely want to do it.”

    De Belin has been the hitman in almost every side he’s played in.

    A skinny back-rower from Cootamundra in the Riverina, he arrived at the famed rugby league nursery of St Gregory’s Campbelltown and straight into a team sparkling with schoolboy stars: James Tedesco, Alex McKinnon, Matt Groat, Sam Williams and Nic White.

    “He has the best defensive technique I’ve ever seen,” McKinnon said. “He’s always had it. He lacked weight; he never got into weights because he wasn’t with an NRL club and didn’t play junior reps.

    “But, if you really break it down, he’s able to retreat back fast enough to get to the line; then his awareness to see who’s going to have the run; his line speed is fast but he never runs out of it; he makes a split-second decision to shorten his feet as he comes into contact; then that last-minute dip and power … It’s perfect.

    “He’s the perfect build for his position: massive base, big arse, big legs, big back and chest. He’s a specimen.”

    De Belin wasn’t always the purpose-built, 106-kilogram tackling machine or sniper or swordsman or whatever you want to call him.

    As a young footballer, he was relatively unnoticed by NRL talent scouts and it took a few choice words from a few people to get the Dragons interested when he came out of school. One of those people was McKinnon, who nudged former coach Steve Price.

    De Belin could’ve taken bigger money to join the Bulldogs but instead wanted to play with his former St Greg’s mates at the Dragons on a pre-season contract worth next to nothing. He weighed about 90kg.

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/nrl/th...in-into-an-origin-hitman-20180603-p4zj7h.html


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    STATE OF ORIGIN


    Dragons contingent ready for Origin battle
    Author
    Andre Cupido
    Timestamp
    Tue 5 Jun 2018, 11:59 AM

    The Dragons sent an ominous warning to their NRL rivals when they went on a rampant six-game winning streak that immediately stamped their claims as genuine premiership heavyweights.

    But while players such as Euan Aitken and Cameron McInnes have hit career-best form. and the explosiveness of Matt Dufty and Ben Hunt has given them an array of attacking flair, it's the ruthless juggernaut of the Dragons forward-pack that has been the key to their early season dominance.

    Being so close [to Origin] it gives me a massive drive...I want to help achieve a massive goal in my career and hopefully one day I can run out for the Blues.

    Tariq Sims
    So much so, they will have a contingent of representatives donning the sky-blue jersey this Wednesday night with Paul Vaughan, Jack de Belin and Tyson Frizell earning selection in the Brydens lawyers NSW Blues side, while Tariq Sims has been named as 18th man.

    "It means everything to me [because] last year I don't think I was ready to play, it was just more [about] going to a new club to prove myself again but this year I feel ready, and It's a dream come true for me and words can't describe the feeling," Vaughan told NSWRL.com.au.

    "It's pretty cool when you think about it [because] it's the pinnacle of Australian sport and obviously to finally get my turn now I couldn't be more excited and over the moon," de Belin added.

    "It's been a childhood dream and to be able to fulfil that is amazing."

    For Sims, the resilient back-rower has been knocking on the door of representative selection in recent years, but two severe leg injuries derailed his Origin aspirations and casted a shadow of uncertainty over his playing future in Rugby League.

    He was on the verge of being named 18th man for the Blues under Ricky Stuart in 2012, but a broken leg in the final game before the team announcement ruined his debut Origin selection.

    But such is the magnitude of his incredible perseverance that the 28-year-old refused to give up on his Origin dream, and has his sights firmly set on running out for the Blues in the near-distant future.

    "My parents come to mind when I think about [my injury] because I had two pretty badly broken legs and it's one of those where some people may pack it in and try something else, but I've had the support of family and friends and a lot of different coaching staff who have helped me along the way," Sims said.

    "A bit of mental strength comes into it. You ride the highs and lows of winning and losing every week but if you add an injury it adds to the challenge of rehabilitation.

    "Now being so close [to Origin] it gives me a massive drive...I want to help achieve a massive goal in my career and hopefully one day I can run out for the Blues."

    While Sims will play a crucial role off the field for the Blues and craft his trade in a forward-pack that boasts unrivalled tenacity and a brutal defensive mindset, his teammate Frizell will be looking to add his own unique spark to a youthful Blues side that boasts 11 debutants.

    But while he will be looking to take on a leadership role after some scintillating performances in his four Origin appearances, Frizell admits he is most looking forward to watching Vaughan and de Belin live out their childhood dream after years of relentless hard-work and sacrifice.

    "You get to see what they do week in week out alongside you at club-level, so for those players I know they're going to come in and not only do a job but they're going to make a difference in the team and I'm looking forward to them making their debuts," Frizell said.

    "The consistency in [their] game [and what] those two players have brought in the past...they've stepped up and are a key reason why we've been going well at the Dragons."

    Having built a reputation as one of the most formidable and menacing forward-packs in the game this season, it will only be a matter of time before the Dragons pack make their collective presence felt on Wednesday night as a new era dawns for NSW.


    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/06/05/dragons-contingent-ready-for-origin-battle/
     

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