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Sele: Intensity Is High
Tue 29th November, 07:00AM

St George Illawarra Dragons lock Hame Sele is keen to get amongst the action after being elevated to the full time first-grade squad.

The local Kingsgrove Colts junior is a recent graduate of the Club’s National Youth Competition ranks but is no stranger to the requirements of first-grade pre-season training after being invited to participate last year.

Sele admits he has adapted well to the on field requirements that has come with his elevation and is finding learning about nutrition and the correct recovery sessions very beneficial.

“It’s pretty exciting to be part of the first-grade team and train with the boys but overall this is my second pre-season as part of the squad,” said Sele.

“This time around I know what to expect compared to last year and luckily nothing has caught me by surprise as the intensity around here is high.

“It is a big step-up from NYC to first-grade and as I have mentioned, the intensity is higher, but also it is a lot more physical.

“Guys like Jai Field and Reece Robson will really benefit from learning off the first-grade boys and hopefully they take it back to the NYC squad.

“For me I am learning how to stay on top of my meals and taking it day-by-day on how to recover well after each session so my body is ready for the next session.”





Vote Thompson For Indigenous All-Stars
Tue 29th November, 12:00PM

St George Illawarra Dragons second-rower Joel Thompson is eligible for voting selection in the Indigenous All Stars squad for the annual All Stars fixture at McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle on February 10.

Red V Members and supporters have the opportunity to select the 2016 NRL Community Ken Stephen Medal winner in the 20-man squad with voting open until Saturday, December 3 (3.00PM AEDT).

Thompson is a five-time Indigenous All-Star (2010-13; 2015) and can be selected in the back-row.

St George Illawarra Dragons second-rower Joel Thompson is eligible for voting selection in the Indigenous All Stars squad for the annual All Stars fixture at McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle on February 10.

Red V Members and supporters have the opportunity to select the 2016 NRL Community Ken Stephen Medal winner in the 20-man squad with voting open until Saturday, December 3 (3.00PM AEDT).

Thompson is a five-time Indigenous All-Star (2010-13; 2015) and can be selected in the back-row.

Click Here For More Details And To Vote For Joel Thompson!





Dragons giant Masoe ready to end NRL hiatus

Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

29 Nov 2016, 5:30 p.m.

PICTURE: Adam McLean

CALL it the longest preseason ever. At least that’s how more than a thousand days without NRL action has felt for Dragons giant Mose Masoe.

The 130-kilogram wrecking ball hasn’t played in the NRL since August 31 2013 when he played the last of his 63 NRL games for Penrith.

After two years with Super League club St Helens, Masoe’s first attempt at an NRL return this season was cruelled by an ACL tear just a week out from the Dragons first trial fixture.

Masoe said suffering the injury in an innocuous non-contact running drill so close to the beginning of the season was a tough pill to swallow.

“I was gutted, especially getting injured in the very last session before the trials,” Masoe said.

“It was a pretty dark time for me for a while there.I’d put so much hard work into the preseason to get ready for the NRL again and to go out like that, not even playing a game at all was pretty devastating.

“But now I’m back in the same position as when I first arrived and I’m getting excited again which is good.

“If anything the the desire’s just grown having another year out.

“By the time I get back it’s probably going to be a about a year and a half since I played. I’ve pretty much been away from the NRL for three years.

“It’s going to be good to come back just to try and prove to myself that I’m still good enough to play in the NRL.”

Complications from the initial surgery saw him go under the knife a second time, quashing any chance of an early return in 2016 and keeping him in the rehab group prior to Christmas.

“We tried to add on another little ligament to the side of my leg but my leg didn’t cope with it very well,” Masoe said.

“They were doing the best for me to try and make it more stable but in hindsight it probably set me back a couple of months and that’s why I missed the back end of last year.

“We’ve taken it out now and we’re back to preseason so it’s all good and I’m ready to rip in.

“There’s still a couple of little rehab things I’m doing but I think the medical staff are just taking it easy and being a bit cautious because I’m a bigger bloke. I’ve put on a bit of weight in the off-season and I think they’re just looking after me in that way.

“I’m still getting flogged in cardio but they’re looking after the older bodies now which is good. It’s exciting to be back amongst it and around the boys preparing for another season.”

After a number of seasons watching their under-sized pack get monstered at the hands of heavier NRL rivals, Dragons fans rejoiced when the club landed Masoe’s signature.

Should he make a successful return in 2017 he’ll add his considerable weight to pack that will also include the likes of Russell Packer, Leeson Ah Mau and new recruit Paul Vaughan – meaning the Dragons will be NRL pygmies no longer.

“We’ve got a big team and that’s going to be good for us,” Masoe said.

“Getting Vaughny in there as well is really going to help the team.

“When we play teams like the Bulldogs who are all over 100 kilos it’s going to be good for us as a team to have those bigger guys.

“We’ll be pushing each other hard at training and hopefully we can take that onto the field.”



2017 NYC Pre-Season Training Squad
Wed 30th November, 12:00PM

The St George Illawarra Dragons National Youth Competition team returned to training under the guidance of new NYC Head Coach Wayne Collins in early November.

Collins arrived to the Club during the off-season having most recently held the title of NRL Assistant Coach at the South Sydney Rabbitohs (2012-16) and replaces Mat Head who has been elevated to NSW Cup & Transition Coach.

Collins has additionally also held Assistant Coach roles with both the Penrith Panthers (2007-11) and Canberra Raiders (2004-06), having also had a successful first-grade playing career with the Raiders (1988-90), St George Dragons (1991-94), South Queensland Crushers (1995-96) and Leeds Rhinos (1997).

“I am excited by the opportunity to have been appointed NYC Head Coach of the Dragons and overseeing a very talented group of players as we prepare for the new season,” said Collins.

“I have been lucky enough to have had a long career in rugby league both as a player and now a coach so there is a lot that I can pass on and teach this playing group.

“The entire playing group has been very receptive to whatever they have been told which makes my job that little bit easier as I want to try and develop as many of them into first-grade players.

“I had been held the role of NRL Assistant Coach for several seasons but I was looking for a new challenge in overseeing a team and I am lucky to have inherited a team who went deep into the NYC Finals last year.

“I have enjoyed turning up to training each and every day so far as they bring an enthusiasm which is great to witness as I see it as my job to give each player every opportunity to develop into a first-grade player.”

The Young Dragons pre-season train-on squad comprises of 29 players of which 14 are returning members of the successful 2016 squad who were one match short of the NYC Grand Final.

These returning players will be joined by 15 new additions which are a combination of local juniors, St George Dragons and Illawarra Steelers SG Ball graduates, external High Performance Unit (HPU) targeted players and rugby union players.

The new-look team will include 13 members of the Illawarra Steelers SG Ball team which reached the 2016 NSWRL Grand Final last season which included Junior Kiwis U18 representative fullback Steve Marsters, NSW U18 representative Zac Bailey, Queensland U18 representative Tristan Sailor (son of former Dragon Wendell Sailor) and winger Dylan Morris (son of former Dragon Steve Morris).

In total, the Young Dragons will comprise of 15 local juniors from across the St George, Illawarra and South Coast regions as well as a further five players previously identified through the Club’s external HPU program.

Young Dragons players Patrick Herbert (captain), Blake Lawrie, Reuben Garrick, Jai Field and Reece Robson are presently training full-time with the NRL first-grade squad but are eligible for NYC in 2017.

Furthermore, an additional 11 trialists will also train with the squad in the hopes of earning a playing contract for the new season.

2017 NYC Contracted Pre-Season Training Squad:

Max Bailey (Thirroul Butchers); Jack Cross (Port Kembla Blacks); Josh Dowel (Warilla-Lake South Gorillas); Jai Field (Shellharbour Sharks); Brayden Gallagher (External HPU); Reuben Garrick (Gerringong Lions); Jason Gillard (Nowra-Bomaderry Jets); Patrick Herbert (External HPU); Elijah Hunt; Matheson Johns (Thirroul Butchers); Blake Lawrie (Dapto Canaries); Hayden Lomax (External HPU); Zac Lomax (External HPU); Joe Lovodua (Hurstville United); Steve Marsters (Thirroul Butchers); Stuart Mason (Dapto Canaries); Jayden Morgan (Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles); Dylan Morris (Kiama Knights); Trent Peoples; Cooper Purcell (Thirroul Butchers); Reece Robson; Tristan Sailor (Western Suburbs Red Devils); Israel Seufale; Matt Sheppard; Rudi Sifa; Vinnie Tikeri; TJ Uele; Bailey Wallace (External HPU); Jackson Willis.

2017 NYC Trialists:

Tom Angel (Kiama Knights); Reece Burns (Penshurst RSL); Caleb Campbell; Jackson Ford (Gerringong Lions); Dane Francis (Thirroul Butchers); Toby Gumley-Quine (Gerringong Lions); Jamen Johnson; Jaydon Lonergan; Bailey MacBeth; Ryan Matthews (Thirroul Butchers); Jayme McElhone (Thirroul Butchers).



Dufty: Enjoying Professional Environment
Thu 1st December, 07:00AM

St George Illawarra Dragons fullback Matt Dufty has welcomed becoming part of the first-grade squad and training within a professional environment.

The local Penshurst RSL junior is a recent graduate of the Club’s National Youth Competition team where he spent three seasons representing the Young Dragons.

Dufty has praised the close bonds that have formed this pre-season as well as his senior teammates’ openness to assisting the younger members with their development.

The custodian also admits he has welcomed the pre-season training and conditioning program as have the younger members of the squad.

“The time away during the off-season went quickly and before I knew it I was back training, this time as part of the first-grade squad,” said Dufty.

“There are six or seven players around my age training this pre-season as well as four younger than me so it’s a pretty young squad this pre-season.

“The pre-season has been pretty tough but we’re all sticking together.

“I was involved last season in the first-grade pre-season squad but was still eligible to compete in the NYC.

“This year is different as we have new performance staff who have been making us run a lot but looking after us with recovery.

“I love being around a professional environment and having my own locker as well as having all the boys around me.

“The senior players have been welcoming if us younger players need any advice as they’re there for us and it shows we are a pretty tight team.

“I want to get my body as fit as it can leading up to the trials and I’ll just keep working hard and see what the future holds.”





Aitken: Proud To Have Made History
Thu 1st December, 07:00AM

St George Illawarra Dragons centre Euan Aitken is thankful for having the opportunity to explore his culture after representing the Scotland Bravehearts at the Four Nations tournament recently.

Aitken featured in all three fixtures for his team of heritage and scored the historic try which gave the Bravehearts a hard-earned 18-all draw against New Zealand at Zebra Claims Stadium, Workington.

The inside three-quarters overcame Club teammate Jason Nightingale, who was on the wing for the Kiwis at the time, to notch the four points in the dying minutes of the fixture.

“I managed to catch-up with each of the boys after each game and I caught up with Jason the night after our game,” said Aitken.

“I’m pretty sure he was a little bit disappointed but we caught up and all was well.

“It was a great experience to be able to go up against the best in the world and especially for Scotland Rugby League it was massive for them to get that draw against New Zealand in the last match.

“I think in every game we improved and it showed in that last game when we were working against New Zealand.

“It was a very cold night and there was an 8,000-strong crowd there filling the stands watching while we competed against the best in the world at the time and the boys really turned up with the right attitude which is why I suppose we came away with the draw.

“I didn’t think too much about the try; I just got the ball in my hands, sort of juggled it a bit and just went for the line and thankfully I got over.

“It was good getting away to Scotland and we stayed in Edinburgh for several days which allowed all the players to learn about their tartan as well as family crest.

“It was definitely good to have that opportunity and be able to learn about my culture.”



Matthews: Happy With NRL Draw
Fri 2nd December, 07:00AM

St George Illawarra Dragons utility Will Matthews has expressed his pleasure over the fixture draw and is looking forward to taking part in back-to-back home games to start the campaign.

The Dragons open their season with back-to-back home games against the Penrith Panthers at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah and the Parramatta Eels at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.

The Kyogle Turkeys junior believes this is the perfect opportunity for supporters to become Red V Members and cheer the team on, which includes new arrivals Paul Vaughan (prop), Cameron McInnes (hooker) and Nene Macdonald (winger).

“It’s great too that we have two back-to-back home games off the bat so hopefully we can get a heap of new Red V Members as well as existing members to come out and support us there,” said Matthews.

“All the new boys have slotted in really nicely too and it seems like they have been here forever.

“Due to a lot of the international players being away we’ve been working a lot on our defensive type of plays as its hard to work on a lot of our attacking plays with those guys not here.

“There has been a lot of conditioning training as well as we all get the body right for another season of NRL.

“They don’t get any easier and as the body gets older it takes you longer to recover but it’s all worth it.”





Nona ready for second crack at NRL after Cutters success

Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

2 Dec 2016, 5 p.m.

SECOND SHOT: Shaun Nona has earned an NRL crack with the Dragons after spearheading the Cutters premiership charge. Picture: Adam McLean

The biggest untapped talent outside of the NRL.

It’s a fair rap, but one former Illawarra Cutters coach Jason Demetriou is well qualified to give having watched Shaun Nona steer two teams to state-national double crowns in the past three seasons.

Demetriou has since moved on to be Wayne Bennett’s right-hand man in Brisbane but Nona has stayed on in Wollongong as one of four Cutters players granted fulltime contracts with the Dragons on the back of their 2016 success. It makes the 26-year-old the the potential X factor in the Dragons halves equation heading into next season following the departure of Benji Marshall and fierce criticism of the club’s limp attacking performance in 2016.

The fact the Tully product passed up the chance to return home with the Townsville Blackhawks next season shows how serious the former Queensland and NSW Residents representative is about making his shot at the NRL stick. He’s also taking plenty of heart from Souths half, and long-time Queensland cup rival, Cody Walker’s breakout 2016 season after debuting at 26.

“I had the chance to return back north with the Blackhawks but then Dragons spoke to me and said they’d like me to stick around for another year,” Nona said.

“I was happy to do that and I’m really thankful for the opportunity. At my age, I’m 26 now, I thought I probably wouldn’t get another opportunity. A lot of the young guys come up now are pretty talented and that’s the way most clubs like to go It’s very rare for fellas over 25 to get a chance in first grade.

“I had a lot of time playing against Cody in the Queensland Cup and he’s definitely opened up that pathway for fellas like us to make it into first grade so hopefully I can replicate what he’s done.”

It won’t be Nona’s first chance at cracking the NRL having spent time in the Melbourne Storm system following the Pride’s 2014 premiership success. It proved a steep learning curve and, having never played outside the semi-professional ranks, he admits he wasn’t ready physically or mentally ready for the rigours of the NRL.

“My first season in Melbourne was the first time I’d been involved in a full-time first grade system,” Nona said.

“It was a shock to the body and I just wasn’t prepared for what they had in store for me. I’ve definitely learned from that and I’m definitely preparing myself better the second time around.”

Nona’s promotion to the NRL squad also means he’ll be vying with Cutters halves partner Drew Hutchison for the No.7 jumper alongside skipper Gareth Widdop, something he expects to bring out the best in both of them.

“Nothing much will change we’re just going to push each other to be at our best which is what we did with the Cutters,” he said.

“Whoever gets the first opportunity we’ll congratulate each other. I just need to make sure I’m pushing those boys and, whether it’s through injury or their form’s not that great, I’ve just got to be ready for when that opportunity comes.”



Hutchison: New Additions Add Depth
Sat 3rd December, 07:00AM

St George Illawarra Dragons halfback Drew Hutchison has heaped praised on the four new recruits recently elevated from the Illawarra Cutters squad.

Dragons quartet Shaun Nona (five-eighth), Levi Dodd (centre), Chris Lewis (second-row) and (Jacob Hind) all played alongside Hutchison at various stages with the Cutters as they went on to win both the NSW Cup Premiership and NRL State Championship last season.

All four players were elevated to respective one-year first-grade contracts ahead of the new campaign for their on field efforts and Hutchison believes each will flourish being within a professional training environment.

“I was actually away when I heard the news that all four players had signed but when I got back I was straight on the telephone to congratulate each of them,” said Hutchison.

“Shaun is a very skilful player who I played alongside last season in the Cutters and we struck up some pretty good combinations so its good to see him rewarded for the way he played last year and get a contract with the first-grade squad.

“He is a pretty flarey kind of player who can pull something out of nowhere whether it be him grubbering it or putting on the perfect pass.

“He has a very good running game as well so he is in fact a pretty complete player and its always enjoyable playing with him.

“Levi is a good player who can carry the ball with both hands and is overall very skilful and he will really benefit from this first-grade pre-season.

“Chris is a player who has gotten better each year that I have played with him and he’s getting bigger as well so I suppose he will also benefit having a full first-grade pre-season under his belt and playing alongside better players.

“Jacob has been in the Cutters system for a number of years now and to see him getting rewarded with a first-grade contract is unreal.

“I think all the players will push the squad for positional selection as they will be pushing for first-grade spots.”






Thompson: Mentoring The Juniors
Tue 6th December, 07:00AM

St George Illawarra Dragons second-rower Joel Thompson has embraced the opportunity to become a mentor to the younger members emerging within the squad.

The five-time Indigenous All-Star is in the midst of his fourth season with the Red-and-Whites and is impressed with the effort and commitment shown so far by the junior players as well as the new recruits to the Club.

Young Dragons quintet Patrick Herbert, Blake Lawrie, Jai Field, Reuben Garrick and Blake Lawrie have all been invited to partake in the first-grade pre-season training program and Thompson notes he partly sees it as his role to get the next generation of players ready.

“Most of the players have returned in good shape and we know we have to put a lot of work in leading into this season,” said Thompson.

“We’ve come in here so far working hard and taking our training up another level.

“We have some new guys in the squad as well as some younger players who have come up from the NYC too.

“Paul Vaughan was coming through the ranks during our time together at the Canberra Raiders and proved to be a good talent.

“He has massive potential and has arrived with the right attitude and ripping straight in and its really good that he is part of the team as I think he’s going to have a good year.

“All the younger blokes too have come in here and are showing the right attitude and want to learn.

“We want to build a really good culture here so that when we move on and finish those guys can carry that one.

“It’s all about working hard and trying to do the best they can and the young guys have really done that.

“I am one of the more older guys now and I am definitely trying to help the younger guys transition into full-time training.

“Having said that, the goal for me too is getting the body into the fittest shape it can be and the strongest it can be as well while learning to be a bit more disciplined with the little things.”





Jack Bird hoping to remain at Sharks
Wed 07 Dec, 2016, 1:20pm
Darren Walton, AAP


Jack Bird at the 2017 Downer NRL Auckland Nines launch. Credit: Grant Trouville. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Backline utility ace Jack Bird has pledged his long-term allegiance to Cronulla and is hoping to settle his future before the start of the Sharks' 2017 NRL title defence.

The NSW State of Origin star is among the hottest properties off contract at the end of next season, but says as long as the Sharks table a reasonable offer he'll almost certainly remain with the premiers.

"I just want to be comfortable where I am. I'm happy to stay at the Sharks. I want to stay at the Sharks," Bird said at Wednesday's launch of the Auckland Nines in Sydney.

"Hopefully by the start of the season I want to try and get it sorted by then. I don't want to go into the footy season thinking where I'm going to be playing (in 2018)."

Bird's loyalty pledge will be welcomed by the Sharks, with a raft of rival clubs including Newcastle and Gold Coast understood to be willing to throw huge money at the grand final hero.

Bird admits money is a factor but so too is camaraderie, with the representative ace keen to remain alongside his grand final teammates, including housemate and fellow young gun Valentine Holmes.

"It's a short career. You're going to take as much as you can get to have a good career and be set for after footy," said Bird, who also harbours long-term captaincy aspirations at the Sharks.

"But I'm not really demanding that much, to be honest. I'm not that kind of guy. I just like playing footy if I got offered the minimum wage I'd probably play."

With Ben Barba suspended for 12 weeks and his future at the club up in the air, Bird is even willing to give Holmes first crack at the vacant fullback position.

"I'm happy at centre. To be honest, it doesn't really bother me (where I play) besides winger," he said.

"But in saying that, anywhere to be around the ball I guess. I enjoy the halves but I'm not much of an organiser. I'm more of a runner."

Just as Bird is hoping to recommit to the Sharks, the incumbent Blues five-eighth is confident that both Barba and Holmes - who is also off contract in 2018 - will stay put.

"Obviously (Barba's) a big loss, but I'm sure he'll be back during the year at some time and he's got all our support behind him," he said.

Bird said he collected Holmes from the airport following his return last week from NFL trials in America.

"He'd be a class wide receiver, to be honest. He's got the speed, he can catch the ball," Bird said.

"It's just the transition of changing from rugby league to the NFL. It's a different game.

"But I've got all the faith in the world in Val and I'm sure he'd do a good job if he ever went over there.

"But I don't think he's going anywhere to be honest. He'll be at the Sharks for a long time."



Money is a factor..... but he'd be happy to play for minimum wage???

Curious turn of phrase to say the least.


Yep..certainly sounds like he will not be coming back. We should never have lost him in the first place. He has been vindicated in his success at the Sharks and why would he want to come and join our rabble.


Macdonald Named In Queensland Emerging Maroons Squad
Fri 9th December, 07:00AM


St George Illawarra Dragons winger Nene Macdonald has been named in the Queensland ‘Emerging Maroons’ squad camp on Friday.

Macdonald is part of a 17-man squad named by Queensland Maroons State of Origin Head Coach Kevin Walters.

All players will take part in the upcoming day camp designed to provide players with an insight into what it takes to play State of Origin for Queensland.

“The pathway programs we have available through the QAS are second to none and this is another fantastic opportunity to look at the next generation of players coming through,” said Walters.

Queensland Emerging Maroons Squad:

Nene Macdonald (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Jayson Bukuya (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
Dale Copley (Sydney Roosters)
Kyle Feldt (North Queensland Cowboys)
Tim Glasby (Melbourne Storm)
Jake Granville (North Queensland Cowboys)
Coen Hess (North Queensland Cowboys)
Valentine Holmes (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
Ben Hunt (Brisbane Broncos)
Felise Kaufusi (Melbourne Storm)
Edrick Lee (Canberra Raiders)
Ethan Lowe (North Queensland Cowboys)
Anthony Milford (Brisbane Broncos)
Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm)
Moses Mybe (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Dylan Napa (Sydney Roosters)
Lloyd Perrett (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Ashley Taylor (Gold Coast Titans)
Christian Welch (Melbourne Storm)
Jarrod Wallace (Gold Coast Titans)



Frizell: Relaxed & Ready
Fri 9th December, 12:00PM

St George Illawarra Dragons second-rower Tyson Frizell is keen to commence training alongside his new teammates ahead of the new season.

The Australia international has been afforded additional leave following his duties for the Kangaroos during the recent Four Nations tournament and will not commence pre-season until early next year.

The local Corrimal Cougars junior however admits that the time away has been good for his body after a rollercoaster season which saw him undergo back surgery, represent the NSW Blues at State of Origin and ultimately be awarded the Dragons ‘Player of the Year’ medal.

Yet he is keen to meet his new teammates when the time comes to hit the field.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the new boys in the squad ripping into training which is good to hear and I’m looking forward to meeting them and training alongside them,” said Frizell.

“For me personally I didn’t think last season was the type of year that would happen but I am grateful for it.

“It has been a massively long year for myself so I am making the most of the time away to relax.

“Following on from the Four Nations I was able to do a little bit of touring and travelling including getting to visit both France and Italy which something nice to do after a long year.

“I had a little break after the Four Nations but I am back to see the boys as well as commence my medical tests.

“It’s good to see the boys ripping into training.”



Frizell granted longer break

Mitch Jennings@@Mitch_Jenno

9 Dec 2016, 1:57 p.m.

BIG YEAR: Tyson Frizell in action for the Kangaroos. Picture: Getty Images

DRAGONS star Tyson Frizell has made a brief return to Dragons training this week after an outstanding season in which he made both his State of Origin and Test debuts.

The long campaign has seen he and fellow Test and Origin star Josh Dugan granted extended leave on their return to Australia but Frizell, who recently signed a two-year contract extension with the club, said he is keen to return after Christmas.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the new boys in the squad ripping into training which is good to hear and I’m looking forward to meeting them and training alongside them,” Frizell said.

“For me personally I didn’t think last season was the type of year that would happen but I am grateful for it. It has been a massively long year for myself so I am making the most of the time away to relax. Following on from the Four Nations I was able to do a little bit of touring and travelling including getting to visit both France and Italy which something nice to do after a long year.”