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

  1. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    WOMEN'S RUGBY LEAGUE


    Marquee quartet further boosts Dragons' Women's Premiership squad
    Author
    Dragons.com.au dragons.com.au
    Timestamp
    Wed 13 Jun 2018, 12:30 PM

    The St George Illawarra Dragons are delighted to announce a further four marquee signings ahead of the inaugural 2018 NRL Holden Women's Premiership.

    Local junior Rikeya Horne, New Zealand Kiwi Ferns duo Honey Hireme and Raecene McGregor and New South Wales and Australia representative Jessica Sergis will join Jillaroos trio Kezie Apps, Sam Bremner and Talesha Quinn in the Dragons' inaugural 22-woman squad.

    Furthermore, the Dragons have also signed former Australian rugby union representative and Samoan international Oneata Schwalger, on the opening day of the free agency period which will run until Saturday, June 30.

    The signing of Corrimal Cougars outside back Rikeya Horne is further reflection of the genuine pathway now in place for women at the Dragons.

    The 18-year-old made her international debut for the Jillaroos at February's Commonwealth Championships Nines tournament, and played a crucial role in Australia's grand final victory over Samoa.

    "Rikeya has the honour of being the first player to come through our Dragons women's pathway which proves it legitimacy for other inspiring young female rugby league players," Dragons coach Daniel Lacey said.

    "She started in the Illawarra Steelers' Tarsha Gale Cup side and has since played for Country New South Wales and the Jillaroos' Nines team.

    "That's exactly what elevated her into becoming a marquee player and among Australia's top 40 women's players."

    Winger Hireme and utility back McGregor took part in the Kiwi Ferns' 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign, where they qualified for the tournament final.

    A mainstay for the Kiwi Ferns for the past decade, Hireme was the Player of the Tournament at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and followed it up last year when she finished as the World Cup's leading try scorer (13 tries).

    Nicknamed 'Honey Bill Williams', Hireme is also a New Zealand dual international having represented the Black Ferns at the 2014 Rugby World Cup and Women's Sevens outfit at the 2013 Sevens World Cup.

    McGregor – who scored four tries playing at fullback and five-eighth at the last Women's World Cup – has also represented Australia in soccer and rugby sevens.

    The talent possessed by the Sydney-based star was enough for the Kiwi Ferns to overlook New Zealand superstar Georgia Hale for last year's World Cup final.

    "We are very lucky to have someone of Honey's experience, reputation and skill," Lacey said. "We are looking forward to her positive impact and influence both on and off the field for our younger local players.

    "To have someone at the club who has played on the biggest stage numerous times like she has will be great for our squad."

    On McGregor, Lacey added: "Even though she qualifies for the Kiwi Ferns through her birth parents, Raecene plays in the Sydney competition at Cabramatta. It's beneficial for the Dragons to sign her as she's experienced for her age.

    "She played in the halves in World Cup final and some of the connections she made with Honey throughout the tournament will only benefit the Dragons."

    Utility back Sergis shot to prominence when she scored a hat-trick in New South Wales' interstate challenge win over Queensland at WIN Stadium, Wollongong last year.

    Her show-stealing performance for the Blues helped her secure an Australia debut in a one-off Test against Papua New Guinea late last year.

    Although she missed out on selection for the Jillaroos' World Cup campaign, if her first 18 months of rugby league is anything to go by then Sergis is certainly a star on the rise.

    "A new era of women's players is coming through and Jessica is one of those who are on track for bigger and better things," Lacey said.

    "Her versatility will be a real benefit for us. She can play multiple positions in the backline which is important."

    While Schwalger wasn't a part of the NRL's 40-woman elite squad, she was identified by Lacey and recruitment manager Richard Age at the recent National Championships.

    A 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup representative, the Victorian-based front-rower Schwalger made headlines during the tournament for her aggressive style of play.

    Schwalger's performance for the Combined Affiliated States at the National Championships reaffirms the benefits of the free agency period now before the inaugural NRL Holden Women's Premiership.

    "Oneata doesn't have an off button. I'm unsure she knows how to change gears. It's all or nothing with her," Lacey said.

    "We saw her efforts at the National Championships and she showed traits of given her all for the team which is exactly what we want.

    "She has played at the highest level in rugby union and this experience combined with her energy and enthusiasm will pay huge dividends for the squad. Oneata will give her all for the Dragons. She's shown that ever since we expressed interest in her."

    The Dragons are expected to fill their 22-woman inaugural NRL Women's Premiership squad by no later than June 30, with Lacey assuring the bulk of remaining spots will be filled by local players.

    "As a development club – with over 14,000 females playing tackle, touch and tag across our region – it has always been our intention to ensure we have a strong local presence within our squad," Lacey said.

    "We are now looking at a number of additional local players to fill the bulk of our remaining spots on our roster. It is important for our local girls to know that there is a genuine pathway to the NRL here at the Dragons."

    Dragons NRL Holden Women's Premiership players:

    • Kezie Apps
    • Sam Bremner
    • Honey Hireme
    • Rikeya Horne
    • Raecene McGregor
    • Talesha Quinn
    • Oneata Schwalger
    • Jessica Sergis
    Player biographies

    Honey Hireme

    • Kiwi Ferns (2008-present)
    • 2008, 2013 and 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cups
    • 2013 Rugby League Women's World Cup Player of the Tournament
    • 2017 Rugby League Women's World Cup top try scorer (13 tries)
    • New Zealand Women's Rugby League Player of the Year (2007, 2012)
    • New Zealand Black Ferns (2014-present)
    • 2013 Rugby Sevens Women's World Cup
    • 2014 Rugby Women's World Cup
    Rikeya Horne

    • New South Wales Country (2017-18)
    • Australia Jillaroos (2018)
    Raecene McGregor

    • New Zealand Kiwi Ferns (2017)
    • 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup
    • 2014 Summer Youth Olympics Gold Medallist – Rugby Sevens
    • Represented New South Wales and Australia in soccer (2010)
    Oneata Schwalger

    • 2014 Rugby Women's World Cup
    • Affiliated Combined States (2018)
    • Samoa Rugby League (2018)
    Jessica Sergis

    • New South Wales City (2018)
    • New South Wales (2017)
    • Australian Jillaroos (2017)

    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/201...ther-boosts-dragons-womens-premiership-squad/
     
  2. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Dragons trump card to juggle representative demands
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    ACE: Dragons head of performance Nathan Pickworth (left) will accompany Gareth Widdop and James Graham on next week's Denver Test trip. Picture: Sylvia Liber

    HE played integral role in the Dragons flying start to the season and St George Illawarra’s head of performance Nathan Pickworth is shaping as the ace in the club’s deck as it looks to navigate a demanding rep season.

    As expected, skipper Gareth Widdop and James Graham were both named in the England squad for next Sunday’s Test clash with New Zealand in Denver.

    The Dragons will dig into their own pocket to send Pickworth along to manage the marquee pair’s recovery and any injuries should they arise.

    The former elite swimmer will also attend a performance seminar in Salt Lake City and visit the Denver Broncos NFL franchise as part of the trip.

    It will give coach Paul McGregor valuable time to plan for what’s shaping as the most logistically difficult week of the season ahead of the Dragons round 16 match with Parramatta.

    The Thursday-night clash will come just four days after the Denver Test and Origin II, with as many as 10 players likely to be in action over the stand-alone rep weekend.

    In addition the club’s Test and Origin contingent, Tim Lafai and Leeson Ah Mau will almost certainly be in action for Samoa, while only a late Queensland call-up will prevent Nene Macdonald turning our for Papua New Guinea.

    McGregor has repeatedly said he won’t hesitate to rest stars, the Dragons lofty position on the ladder adding to that luxury, and Graham said Pickworth’s trip brings valuable peace of mind.

    “It means a lot that the club care enough to do that,” Graham said.

    “That’s the message I’m getting out of it. The club cares enough about its players that they’re willing to go that length, and that expense, to make sure the players involved in that Test are looked after to the best possible care that can be given.

    “Once that game’s been played he’ll have a better indication to communicate to the coach and the rest of the staff where the players who play in that game are at.

    “That’s sport these days. He’ll look after us well and that’s part of his job.”

    While the next 14 days are shaping as some of the most challenging of the season, Graham said his side won’t fall into the trap of looking past Manly at WIN Stadium on Saturday.

    The Sea Eagles have been beset with on and off-field drama this season and were scratching to name the mandatory 23-man squad on Tuesday.

    It looks very much a mismatch but Graham said games, particularly at this point of the season, aren’t won on paper.

    “As far as I’m concerned I’m not on that plane yet,” Graham said.

    “The concentration is on this game on Saturday and that’s where all the head space is at the moment.

    “You’d be naive to not think about being on a flight Sunday morning or whenever, but my focus is on getting the two points on Saturday.

    “I’m not thinking further down the track about other games. If you go into a game with that sort of attitude or mentality, you see it time and time again, it doesn’t work well for that team or that player.

    “We understand the situation that we’re in and we just want to win because that’s what our aims are.

    “We appreciate where we’re at and the motivating factors going into this game is here and where our [team] aims and goals are.”


    https://www.illawarramercury.com.au...ard-to-juggle-representative-demands/?cs=3713
     
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  3. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    WOMEN'S RUGBY LEAGUE


    Lafai's cousin among Dragons' women's recruits
    Author
    Brad Walter Senior Reporter
    Timestamp
    Wed 13 Jun 2018, 07:00 PM

    Oneata Schwalger had never met her cousin Tim Lafai until she signed to play for St George Illawarra in the NRL Women's Premiership.

    Now the pair are trying to convince Lafai's sister, Atasi, to join the club.

    Schwalger, who played for Australia in the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup, was one of five recruits announced by the Dragons on Wednesday, a group that also included Kiwi Ferns stars Honey Hireme and Raecene McGregor.

    The Melbourne-based mother-of-two is the sister of former All Blacks prop John Schwalger and began playing league more than a decade ago in New Zealand before moving to Australia.

    She represented Samoa at February's Commonwealth Championships Nines tournament and played in the final against a Jillaroos team featuring fellow St George Illawarra recruit Rikeya Horne.

    Atasi Lafai was also a member of the Samoa team and plays with both league and union alongside Schwalger.

    [​IMG]
    Ben Hunt with Raecene McGregor. :copyright:dragons.com.au
    "They played in the Nines and got a silver medal in the final against the Jillaroos. That is obviously why she [Schwalger] is here now," Lafai said. "My sister loves her union but we are trying to get her to league.

    "It is pretty good having family in the same team now, repping the Red V. I am pretty sure she will do well."

    Schwalger was spotted by Dragons recruitment manager Richard Agar and coach Daniel Lacey playing for Affiliated States at the recent National Championships.

    The 32-year-old said she jumped at the opportunity to play in the inaugural NRL Women's Premiership and has arranged for family members to look after he two sons Diego, 11, and Malakye, 10, while she is playing for the Dragons.

    [​IMG]
    Rikeya Horne and Tyson Frizell. :copyright:dragons.com.au
    "They are Storm supporters, I am Warriors, but now we are Dragons," she said.

    "To play NRL was a goal, I knew where the game was going and they were offering an opportunity for me to play so I grabbed it."

    Lacey travelled to Melbourne last week to meet with Schwalger and she is the first confirmed signing by any of the four NRL clubs from outside the pool of 60 players on marquee NRL and NZRL contracts.

    "She has played at the highest level in rugby union and this experience, combined with her energy and enthusiasm will pay huge dividends for the squad," Lacey said.

    "Oneata will give her all for the Dragons. She's shown that ever since we expressed interest in her."

    The Dragons have now announced eight signings - Jillaroos stars Sam Bremner, Kezie Apps and Talesha Quinn, the Kiwi Ferns duo of Hireme and McGregor, Horne, Schwalger and NSW winger Jessica Sergis.

    It is understood the club is close to finalising deals with another five players which will be announced soon.



    Holden Women's State of Origin is ready to 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/2018/06/14/lafais-cousin-among-dragons-womens-recruits/
     
  4. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    REPRESENTATIVE


    Lovodua, Sokobalavu named to play Kumuls
    Author
    Jack Brady
    Timestamp
    Thu 14 Jun 2018, 01:36 PM

    St George Illawarra utility Joe Lovodua has been named at hooker for Fiji Bati to play Papua New Guinea during next week's NRL Representative Round.

    Lovodua – who played in all but one of Fiji's Rugby League World Cup campaign last year – has been named at hooker for the Bati in Apisai Koroisau's absence.

    ISP Dragons forward Pio Sokobalavu has also been named to face the Kumuls at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday, June 23.

    Fiji Bati squad to face Papua New Guinea

    1. Kevin Naiqama (c)
    2. Suliasi Vunivalu
    3. Akuila Uate
    4. Tyrone Phillips
    5. Marcelo Montoya
    6. Jarryd Hayne
    7. Henry Raiwalui
    8. Kane Evans
    9. Joe Lovodua
    10. Tui Kamikamica
    11. King Vuniyayawa
    12. Salesi Junior Fainga'a
    13. Jayson Bukuya

    14. Eloni Vunakece
    15. Pio Seci
    16. Sitiveni Moceidreke
    17. Pio Sokobalavu
    18. Mikaele Ravalawa
    19. Junior Roqica



    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/06/14/lovodua-sokobalavu-named-to-play-kumuls/
     
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  5. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    PEARLS OF WISDOM


    Renouf: Hunt can lead Maroons to Origin redemption
    Author
    Steve Renouf
    Timestamp
    Thu 14 Jun 2018, 12:01 PM

    It’s Origin selection time in a few days and the boot seems on the other foot for the first time in a decade with a fair bit of conjecture around the Queensland team and virtually none around the Blues.

    Now is not the time to panic – even if the Maroons go down in the second match in Sydney to lose the series.

    One guy who came in for some criticism after game one was Ben Hunt, who had waited a long time to get a crack at the No.7 jersey and admittedly didn’t set the world alight.

    But there is no way I would consider not sticking by him for all of this year’s series, irrespective of the result in Sydney.

    He has been the form halfback of 2018 over the first 14 rounds, and the most consistent, with the St George Illawarra team that is out in front on the ladder.

    The Maroon forwards didn’t help him a great deal by being dominated by the Blues and I have no doubt Hunt and Cameron Munster are the best duo for Queensland and can do a job on the Blues in the next two matches.

    Maybe Ben suffers from high expectations because he is such a natural talent and skilful player, and there were calls even to play him at hooker. I just think we can be too precious in criticism of these guys sometimes and I have full confidence he can be the player who can make crucial match-winning plays when it matters, as he has for the Dragons plenty of times this year.

    As I’ve said previously, the Queensland forwards were out-muscled in game one and they need to redeem themselves.

    Coaches Corner: Which Origin stars backed up

    I’d suggested Matt Scott be brought in for his Origin experience and ability to bend the defensive line. But I’m not so sure about that now after seeing him play against Parramatta in Darwin last weekend.

    It wasn’t a type of performance that said “pick me” and I was more impressed by Tim Glasby for Melbourne against the Broncos. He’s played Origin before and has plenty of authority about what he does. It’s up to Kevvie Walters but either player would add some starch.

    My theory of “no need to change a lot” was shared by a few mates who have played plenty of State of Origin experience that I met up with this week.

    It wasn’t so much a meeting of the minds, but a meeting of broken-down Broncos in honour of foundation club owner Garry Balkin, who was a real driving force not just for the great club, but many players personally in those early days.

    Garry is not in the best of health and caught up with Chris Johns, Glenn Lazarus, Andrew Gee, Allan Langer, John Plath, myself and Broncos foundation CEO John Ribot … plenty of life experience as well as footy-field experience there I might add!

    Apart from Origin, the other topic that cropped up was the referees.

    Now, I was taught not to say anything if there is nothing good to say about someone, but I am going to make an exception here.

    I think they have clearly been over-refereeing this year. It’s bewildering and certainly frustrating for former players like us. And we were used to having scrum penalties.

    I’m amazed to learn we’ve had 64 sin bins this year, many for things that would have been just penalties for so, so long.

    And now we’ve added an extra element with the refs now encouraged to sin-bin players for foul play even if the victim is not injured.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I think that is a good thing. The offending team should pay a bigger penalty against their opponents on the day, instead of their next opponent getting a leg-up if the player is suspended.

    But can we temper the rest of the petty sin bins and stop looking to award penalties which stop the momentum of games.

    Referees boss explains sin bin rule change

    We have situations where they’re playing music at some stadiums now because it is taking so long to pack scrums. Now, we also have more penalties a game than we’ve had for years to add more stoppages.

    Part of the conversation between us old boys was that we’re going down the track of rugby union with our officiating – slowing the game up, results being determined by interpretations which have ruined the fabric of their game.

    The refs need to have some feeling for the game, the flow of a match and what the fans want, as well as the players.

    Revisit the advantage rule. How many times has a team been called up this year and awarded a penalty and had their momentum stopped dead when, if refs had let play run, they might have scored a try?

    Penalise what needs to be penalised in the context of the match – not nit-pick every possible indiscretion for 80 minutes.

    Todd Greenberg has asked for this. So, hopefully it is apparent this round and for the rest of the year.

    You’ll please some Broncos old heads that’s for sure, and many, many fans too.


    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/06/14/renouf-hunt-can-lead-maroons-to-origin-redemption/
     
  6. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    JUNIOR REPS


    St George junior reps presentation winners announced
    Author
    Dragons.com.au dragons.com.au
    Timestamp
    Fri 15 Jun 2018, 02:25 PM

    Over 160 players, parents and staff were on hand to congratulate the award winners across the Harold Matthews (Under-16s), SG Ball (Under-18s) and Tarsha Gale Cup (Under-18s women) teams.

    [​IMG]
    St George junior representative presentation night

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    [​IMG]
    St George junior representative presentation night

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    St George junior representative presentation night

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    [​IMG]
    St George junior representative presentation night


    The Harold Matthews team had a much improved season, with the highlight being the defeat of eventual premiers, Sea Eagles in the later stages of the competition.

    The awards and jumpers for the Harold Matthews team were presented by Australian, New South Wales and Dragons player Tyson Frizell as well as the coach Paul Homann.

    The Coach's Award was won by Daniel Musolino, the team's dynamic backrower who played consistently throughout the year.

    The Player of the Year was taken out by Caleb Navale. Caleb was a standout in the team; the lock's hard running and brutal defence a feature of his game.

    The inaugural female team in the St George district competed in the second year of the Tarsha Gale Cup competition. This team was defeated in the final by the Sharks who went on to claim the title.

    While they led this match going into the dying stages, a late try sealed victory for Cronulla. The improvement of this team throughout the season was quiet astounding and a credit to the dedication of the staff involved.

    Former Dragons player and current Dragons Intrust Super Premiership coach Mathew Head was hand to present the awards alongside the girl's coach Jonathan Wilson.

    Jonathan presented the Coach's Award to Taina Naividi after she showed outstanding commitment by travelling from the Central Coast to train and play each week.

    The inaugural winner of the St George Female Player of the Year was Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa'amausili, a brutal defender and a dynamic attacking weapon. The highlights of her performances were displayed on the screen during the presentation left no one in any doubt she has a big future in the game.

    The SG Ball team were competitive throughout the season. This squad's development was a great reflection on the efforts they put in throughout the year.

    Two players, Jason Saab and Kane Bradley, were included in the NSW Origin Pathways program. Jason was selected in the Under-18s Blues team that played before Origin I where he scored a try and set up another in the team's win over Queensland.

    The SG Ball Coach's Award was presented by Pat Gibson and won by Jye McRae. Pat highlighted Jye's team first attitude and willingness to cover a variety of roles and playing positions.

    The Bill Spaul Trophy for player of the year was presented by Bill's son Bruce.

    Previous recipients of this award include Mark Gasnier, Lance Thompson, Cameron King and Addin Fonua-Blake.

    This year's recipient was James Coyne. James is a classy, skilful and dynamic ball runner. James is a traditional centre – much like his father Mark, who captained the club – with him having the ability to set up the players outside him.

    Invited trials for next year's squads will be held in September and St George Illawarra staff are currently monitoring players within the St George Junior League ahead of said trials.



    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/06/15/st-george-junior-reps-presentation-winners-announced/
     
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  7. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    KICKOFF: Get 'em onside... sort of
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    TOUGH GIG: Referee Matt Cecchin explains a penalty to Gareth Widdop midway through the Dragons clash with the Bulldogs last week. Picture: AAP Image

    “Get ‘em onsiiiide!” It’s a refrain that often rings out somewhere between the opening kickoff and the first hit-up of the match.

    It doesn’t stop for the ensuing 79 minutes. Normally it continues in Leagues Clubs and at pubs afterwards – “they were offside all night.”

    Even before games we hear commentators and punters pleas:

    “Just give us a good 10 metres, keep the sides apart and let them play footy… get ‘em onsiiiide!”

    So they did. Now everyone’s filthy.

    It’s just further evidence of a game always at odds with itself.

    On Kickoff’s, let’s say semi-regular, trips to beer tents around Illawarra League grounds in recent years there’s always been two things the punters spoke about – the 10 metres and the play-the-ball.

    “They’ve got to tidy up the play-the-ball, it’s a shambles.”

    So they did. Now everyone’s filthy.

    It’s not without precedent. For years as the scourge of wrestling has become more deeply embedded in the game. “They need to get it out of the game” they cried.

    So they did. Now everyone’s filthy.

    It’s true, refereeing perfection will be forever unattainable. However, in a game where grey areas are so large, being onside and getting your foot to the ball are pretty black and white directives, some might even say – ya know – the rules.

    Like plenty of fans, this columnist was frustrated with the number of penalties being blown earlier in the season.

    The whistle-blowers were following a very public directive from NRL HQ of which all NRL clubs were well aware of. That they had a whole preseason to prepare for.

    As the penalty counts grew, people called for refs to use the sin-bin for repeat infringements.

    So they did. Now everyone’s filthy.

    CEO Todd Greenberg stood strong early on, made “no apologies” for trying to clean up the game but, as always, the squeaky wheel got the grease.

    He caved and once again the game cowered in the face of opposition from coaches and certain small, yet painfully vocal, sections of the media.

    "I wouldn't say we're going to soften, we're absolutely on the right path," Greenberg said in his presser on Tuesday.

    "There has been a tendency for referees to continue to nitpick so we have to find the balance. I don't want referees looking for penalties, I want them to continue to police those areas.”

    How on earth are referees supposed to officiate with such a contradictory and vague directive? “Get ‘em onsiiiide… sort of.”

    It’s like telling a boxer “go for the knockout… just don’t hurt anybody.” In the end, the referees will cop the blame from fans, media and coaches.

    People have tried to draw a false dichotomy between the five penalties blown in State of Origin I to what we see at club level.

    Repeat sets are so important in Origin that players do all they can to avoid giving them away. If anything, it shows what type of discipline players are capable of

    You can bet Brad Fittler and Kevin Walters didn’t waste time in camp coaching players how to exploit refereeing interpretations.

    Club coaches spend whole preseasons, and then 26 rounds of the season, doing just that.

    That’s what's been lost, or at least glossed over. Should not some of the responsibility rest with players and coaches?

    Dragons prop James Graham gave a refreshing response when asked that question this week.

    “We all have a responsibility to make [consistency] happen, players, coaches, media, referees,” he said.

    “You can make an argument to say it’s frustrating to watch, but if you go back 12 months, two years, the conversations around the game are people were sick of things going unpenalised.

    “If you look back and say teams were constantly offside, teams were holding on too long it was ‘ruining the game’. Now referees are penalising it and it’s ruining the game.

    “One thing I’m happy to say is I don’t begrudge the job referees have to do. It’s a very difficult job.”

    If only their bosses weren’t making it tougher.


    https://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/5467257/kickoff-get-em-onsidesort-of/?cs=3713
     
  8. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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  9. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    DRAGONS


    McGregor considers resting representative stars
    Author
    Brad Walter Senior Reporter
    Timestamp
    Sat 16 Jun 2018, 10:07 PM

    St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor is prepared to rest his representative stars from the club’s next match just four days after State of Origin II in a bid to ensure they don’t fade towards the end of the season.

    After regaining the outright lead of the Telstra Premiership after 15 rounds, the only obstacle to a top four finish for the Dragons would appear to be the impact of so many players in the representative teams to be named over the weekend.

    Tyson Frizell, Jack de Belin and Paul Vaughan were in the NSW team which won the opening Holden State of Origin match in Melbourne and Ben Hunt played halfback for Queensland, while Tariq Sims was 19th man for the Blues.

    All five could feature in Origin II at ANZ Stadium on June 24, while Gareth Widdop and James Graham will play for England just hours earlier in the Denver Test against New Zealand, whose team may include Leeson Ah Mau and Jason Nightingale.

    The Dragons players are scheduled to play again on Thursday, June 28 against Parramatta but McGregor indicated that some - if not all - would be rested.

    “The boys have got an important game to play for their countries, that is important to them, and obviously, we have State of Origin,” McGregor said.

    “We will just re-assess things after those games as we have only got four days going into Parramatta.

    Match highlights: Dragons v Sea Eagles – Round 15, 2018

    “If I do play the Origin guys against Parramatta that would be four games in 21 days for those players and I put the welfare of my players first before anything so that is the most important thing.

    “The players will always want to play the next game so sometimes you have got to take that out of their control a little bit and be more on what is needed for the club.”

    The 32-8 win over Manly at WIN Stadium on Saturday night has afforded McGregor the luxury of considering a rest for his stars as St George Illawarra now have a two point lead from Penrith, South Sydney and the Warriors.

    “It’s a bit like Melbourne in the past, they have been in the position to rest guys at important stages because they were so high on the ladder every year so it does give you a little bit of scope to look at the back of the year,” McGregor said.

    “We have got a purpose within our squad of what we want to do and that is to give ourselves every chance at the back end of the year and finish as high as we can so that is another game on that journey. To stay two points clear is really good.”

    McGregor said he had no concerns about his players playing representative football and would make a decision on whether they play against the Eels after that.

    “I am a person who backs my players to play representative footy,” he said. “As a young guy you try to play at the highest level and the highest level is for your country or your state, and then make sure they do the best prior to that for their club and after that for their club.

    “I won’t be hiding under the doona or anything like that, I will be wishing them all the best for their games."


    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/06/17/mcgregor-considers-resting-representative-stars/
     
  10. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    State of Origin: Cousin's broken jaw opens Blues door for Dragons hardman
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    NEXT IN LINE: Tariq Sims in action against Manly on Saturday. Picture: Robert Peet

    THERE’S been many twists and turns in the career of Dragons enforcer Tariq Sims, but the latest may just trump them all if he makes a long-awaited Origin debut this weekend.

    Sims has seemingly spent all eight of his NRL seasons on the cusp of a maiden Blues jumper, only to be repeatedly set back by career-threatening injuries.

    The fact it’s an injury to his cousin that could open the door for him to finally earn that maiden NSW start is almost hypoerbolic in its irony.

    Yet that’s the scenario presented this week, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard ruled out of games two and three after suffering a broken jaw in the Panthers loss to the Roosters on Friday.

    Sims, who was one of the first on the phone to check on his cousin’s welfare, looms as a likely replacement in Brad Fittler’s 17 having been 18th man for game one.

    “I was watching the game [on Friday] and they weren’t really leaking too much in regards to his jaw until the second half,” Sims said.

    “As soon as they did I texted him and he let me know what they thought it was.

    “Unfortunately the scans came back with what it was so it’s obviously disappointing for big Reggie.

    “It’s one of those things, accidents do happen during a game and unfortunately he was on the wrong end of one.

    “I know as much as anyone you’re only one run away from an injury, unfortunately we saw that with Reggie. He got a knock on his jaw and now he’s out for four to six weeks.

    “You’ve just got to play every game like it’s your last and hope for the best. That’s definitely how I approach it.”

    Elevating game-one debutant Paul Vaughan into a starting role with Sims coming onto the bench is one option for Brad Fittler, though specialist props Ryan James and Matt Prior have been added to a 20-man squad.

    Sims’ ability to play in the middle and on the edge could get him the nod, but the 28-year-old said he’s willing to play any role required of him.

    “The hunger’s never wavered to pull on that jersey and play,” Sims said.

    [​IMG]
    BROKEN JAW: Injured Reagan Campbell-Gillard will miss the remaining two Origin games. Picture: AAP

    “It’s a tough call to make. Freddie and the coaching staff have got a game plan, whether that’s me going into the middle that’s up to them.

    “I don’t mind mixing it up in the middle. I’ll just make sure I’m in there doing my best for the team in whatever role I’m asked to play.

    “It’s just one of those things where I’m going to have to keep biding my time and chipping away and hopefully playing some strong football when I get the chance.”


    https://www.illawarramercury.com.au...pens-origin-door-for-dragons-hardman/?cs=3713
     
  11. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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  12. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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