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

  1. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Dragons' Origin hopes face sternest test

    St George Illawarra will face the toughest test of their season so far against Melbourne, and so too will their State of Origin hopefuls.

    Updated Updated 19 hours ago

    St George Illawarra's State of Origin hopefuls will surely never get a better chance to prove their credentials.

    Fresh off the back of a visit from Brad Fittler and his NSW coaching staff, the Dragons face the most star-studded team in the competition in Melbourne.

    They come into the match in good form, comfortably disposing of the Sydney Roosters 24-8 just a week-and-a-half ago.

    "The boys know they have put themselves in the next position to play representative footy, but they know the next month will shape that as well," Dragons coach Paul McGregor said.

    Dragons players, including Euan Aitken, Cameron McInnes, Paul Vaughan, Tariq Sims and Jack de Belin, received the best indication yet on Thursday they are closer than ever to possible Blues debuts alongside incumbent Tyson Frizell.

    After playing seven of their first eight games on Channel Nine and in front of Fittler in commentary, he was joined by advisors Greg Alexander and Danny Buderus to watch the Dragons train on Thursday.

    "He rang me during the week and he wanted to come down at some stage to see the boys," McGregor said.

    "It fitted in well because we had an 11-day turnaround. So it didn't interrupt anything.

    "They just spoke to the players shortly and briefly. They came down and had a look at training and Danny did a bit with Cam."

    McInnes' battle with Maroons maestro Cameron Smith on Sunday at Kogarah is easily the biggest of his career.

    Locked in an apparent shootout for a Blues jersey with Souths hooker Damien Cook, a win over Smith could also be the knockout blow.

    Ben Hunt will also feel the pressure of trying to outgun Cameron Munster and Smith as aims to cement his Maroons' No.7 jersey, while he and the Dragons pack must stand down the Storm's representative forwards.

    Plenty are tipping this could be a preview to this year's grand final based on what the ladder-leading Dragons and fourth-placed Storm have shown so far this year.

    "We've got to have an appreciation in the game we're playing in more than anything else," McGregor said.

    "We know we've got to maintain those standards and improve by percentages when we're playing quality teams, and there's none better than the quality we're playing this weekend."


    * The Dragons have won just 26.5 per cent of matches against Melbourne - their worst record of any team.

    * The Saints have won 12 of their past 14 at Kogarah.

    * Melbourne winger Josh Addo-Carr has scored doubles in his last three games.

    *Stats: Fox Sports Stats

    Source: AAP
  2. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Dragons the new benchmark: Bellamy
    Dragons Den News
    WINNING FEELING: Dragons players celebrate Tim Lafai's try against Melbourne on Sunday. Picture: AAP

    DRAGONS coach Paul McGregor insists his side isn't getting carried away with their 8-1 start to the season… but where's the fun in that?

    You've got to hand it to him – most of us would be like Tom Cruise on Oprah's couch.

    Not that it matters a great deal. There are plenty of others – including 19000-strong red v faithful who crammed into Jubilee Oval to witness their side's 34-14 win over Melbourne on Sunday – willing to do it for him.

    You can add Storm coach Craig Bellamy to the list of converts, the mastercoach labeling the Dragons the team to beat this season.

    “What we took from today is – they're the benchmark and we know now, we've got some work to do,” Bellamy said post-match.

    “I just said that to the players in there and I hope they take on board because they are the benchmark, without a doubt.

    “I think the biggest learning we had from them today, being the benchmark, is we had a lot of ball there late in the first half and they defended their goal-line a lot better than we did.

    “They've been doing that all season, we've been doing it for parts of the season, we haven't been consistent at all in that area.

    “They've been playing great footy all season and if we we want to be playing footy in September we need to improve.”

    The Storm produced an identical 8-1 start on their way to last year's premiership but, while he was flattered by Bellamy's endorsement, McGregor was quick to temper expectations.

    “That's nice to hear off a great man and a great coach,” McGregor said.

    "We talk about expectation, it's not from the inside. We've certainly got appreciation around what we're doing at the moment.

    “To come and play in front of 19,000 people at home… you've got to appreciate that and appreciate what we're building. When you've got belief your attitude is right.

    “The main thing at the moment is we have a lot of belief and our attitude is good, it's just about maintaining that and not being complacent in what we do.

    "There's no sign of that in the shed at all. That's the beautiful thing about this squad. There's no egos here, wee're just working hard as one.

    "We know it can get taken away pretty quickly. We've been pretty fortunate with injury so, as long as we maintain a healthy squad, we'll be OK.

    “While ever we continue to work hard and prepare well, keep it pretty simple and play the way we are for one another… who knows? But it's only early.”

    The match ended four tries to three and, had Josh Addo-Carr not been denied a try in the lead-up halftime, the match would have had a much different complexion at halftime.

    It came after the Dragons shot out to a 10-0 lead after 14 minutes on the back of Euan Aitken's eighth minute try and a pair of penalty goals to Gareth Widdop.

    The visitors hit back through Addo-Carr six minutes later and the he looked to have his second nine minutes before the break only to be called back by referee Matt Cecchin, who blew a late whistle on a Dragons ruck infringement in the lead-up.

    Cameron Munster also barged across four tackles later but was denied by the bunker after replays revealed a double-movement.

    Widdop steadied with his third penalty goal of the half five minutes later to push the halftime margin out to beyond a converted try.

    Cam McInnes crossed from close range in the first minute after the resumption before Tim Lafai effectively put the match to bed with his four-pointer five minutes later.

    The Storm finally hit back through Addo-Carr with 17 minutes to play before with Aitken left several defenders in his wake en route to his own double at the other end.

    Addo-Carr completed his hat-trick five minutes from time while Widdop added two more penalty goals to round out the scoring.
  3. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Coach McGregor feeling no pressure
    Tanisha Stanton
    Sun 6 May 2018, 06:38 PM

    Dragons coach Paul McGregor is adamant his team won't fade away after a strong start to the season as they have done in previous years as they continue to build momentum with Sunday's 34-14 win over the Melbourne Storm.

    St George Illawarra's 8-1 start to the season has put no pressure on the competition favourites as McGregor says external expectations are the least of their worries.

    "We talked about expectation, but it's expectation from not within. We've got appreciation about what we're doing at the moment," McGregor said.

    "Everyone else outside obviously is looking towards expectation of the game, we're looking to run out in front of 19,000 people who appreciate what we're building.

    "But we can't be complacent with what we do."

    Dragons press conference: Round 9, 2018

    McGregor said there was plenty of belief at the club but no signs of complacency.

    "We got a lot of belief and our attitude is really good so it's just about maintaining that and not being complacent," he said.

    "There is no sign of that in the shed at all, that's the beautiful thing about the squad.

    "Even players we've had in the past, there are no egos here we are just working hard as one and we know that it can get taken away pretty quickly."

    While admitting his team gave the Storm too many opportunity through poor ball control, McGregor was pleased with his side's defence against a side that have averaged more than 40 points a game in the previous three weeks.

    "The boys have been working hard on what we need to improve each week and holding themselves accountable," he said.

    "We turned the ball over too many times when we probably didn't need to in early tackles, which probably swung the momentum at times.

    "Defensively our middles were outstanding and our left edge were very good so to get the result is nice."

    Sims building to his best
  4. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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  5. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Dragons 2018: McInnes and Cook set for NSW Origin hooking duel
    Dragons Den News
    BLUE EYED: NSW Origin hopefuls Jack de Belin and Cameron McInnes in the thick of it at Dragons training. Picture: Adam McLean.

    WHEN you're honing in on a maiden NSW jumper, a showdown with the best No. 9 to ever do it is a welcome test. A head-to-to battle with your biggest rival for said jumper a week later? Even better.

    That's the path laid out for Dragons rake Cameron McInnes who will take on Blues hooking rival Damien Cook this week, fresh off a points decision win over Maroons skipper Cameron Smith on Sunday.

    The fact he'll also be up against his former club and former teammate Cook adds more juice to the narrative, at least for media types if not for McInnes himself.

    “Cooky's playing well and doing a good job for them but my job as the hooker for my team is to get the boys going forward,” McInnes said.

    “It's not a one-on-one battle or anything like that. As much as people may try to make it that way, it's not how the game works. At the end of the day what I do isn't affected by the opposition

    “He's playing well and that's good for him. I've played Souths that many times now through Charity Shield and things like that it's just another game in all honesty.

    “I've got good mates over there obviously but I've got good mates at the Warriors, the Tigers, everywhere now. This is my home here at the Dragons and I'm just going to go out there and try and do my best for the boys.”

    Cook and McInnes shared the Rabbitohs hooking role throughout the 2016 season before the latter shifted to the Dragons and turned himself into an 80-minute ironman.

    The 24-year-old, who signed a three-year contract extension prior to round one, puts the transformation down to the faith of coach Paul McGregor.

    “I came with a point to prove to myself in that I knew I was a better player than what I was putting out there week to week,” McInnes said.

    "That's a frustrating thing as a footballer. You can't control everything that happens but, if you're not playing to your potential, that's the frustrating part.

    “I still don't think I'm at my potential yet. I'm getting better and I'm being more consistent. That's the most pleasing thing, but it all comes back to the faith Mary's shown in me.”

    That departure also opened the door for Cook to establish himself as the most dynamic running hooker in the game. Those differing, respective attributes pose the dummy-half selection conundrum for NSW coach Brad Fittler.

    The word is McInnes has his nose in front but he said he's had no trouble blocking out the rampant talk of Origin selection that's accompanied his side's flying start to the year.

    “I can ignore it because I don't read papers or anything like that so the only time I hear it is when [the media] mention it,” he said.

    “In all honesty, and it's the truth, I just want to keep playing well for the Dragons. The crowd we had out there [on Sunday] comes off the back of us playing as a team and for each other.

    “If individual rewards come later, obviously I'll be happy, but I just want to keep this going because what we're creating is unbelievable and I want to be a part of it.”

    It's understandable that Origin talk has been the furthest thing from his mind this week after his partner Rachel gave birth to son Talanoa the day after the Dragons Anzac Day win over the Roosters.

    It prompted a mad dash from Allianz Stadium back to Wollongong.

    “The induction process started on Anzac Day but the hospital told me he probably wouldn't come til Thursday but I just wanted to be there,” he said.

    “After the game I left and went straight there and he ended up coming at 7.30 Thursday night so it was a long day but worth every minute.

    “I didn't sleep but I was high off the win after the game and looking forward to meeting him.

    "He's been a good little boy so far and it's great to go home to him. It makes you smile and it puts things in perspective.”
  6. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Mick Ennis expects six Dragons to be picked for Origin, says Paul McGregor’s men will cope

    FOX League expert Michael Ennis has tipped a whopping six Dragons players to get selected for the Origin opener but even with half-a-dozen stars missing he can’t see the club hitting crisis point during the representative period.

    Speaking to Fox Sports, Ennis said he expected Tyson Frizell to be joined by Jack De Belin, Paul Vaughan, Cameron McInnes and Euan Aitken in the NSW side, with Ben Hunt to oppose them in the Queensland No.7 jersey.

    It’s a prospect that many St George Illawarra fans are dreading, with the table-toppers to be vulnerable to a costly slump should the core of Paul McGregor’s side be taken from him.

    While the Origin period will no doubt pose some big challenges of McGregor’s side, Ennis said it would be the making of a fresh crop of talent and would not cost the Dragons when it comes to the crunch.

    “We saw yesterday Reece Robson come on in dummy half, it’s obviously Paul McGregor getting ready to have no Cameron McInnes, blooding him into the system,” Ennis said.

    “Jai Field’s been on the cusp for a number of years now, and a young guy called Zachary Lomax, I’ve got a real rap on him, I saw him play some football in the Charity Shield, he’s a wonderful centre so he’ll cover that Euan Aitken position.”

    The Dragons have a bye on the weekend leading into the Origin series opener and don’t meet their next opponents, the Bulldogs, until five days after Origin I.

    Tyson Frizell is set to retain his spot in the NSW side.Source: News Corp Australia
    It’s just about the best possible draw for them to deal with the challenging period but Ennis conceded the mental toll of playing the full series would be the big test, particularly for those who hadn’t played Origin before.

    “It’s a real challenge Origin. It’s not always just the game after and backing up, it’s the weeks after, it’s the mental drain that Origin has on you, it’s so consuming,” Ennis said.

    “I talk to Wade Graham about it and he had so much good anxiety and so much passion about playing for NSW but didn’t realise how much it would take out of him physically and mentally.

    “It’s a huge beast now Origin and it’s going to be a massive test for Paul McGregor.”

    Paul McGregor is set for a big test during the Origin period.Source: News Corp Australia
    If as many players are picked out of McGregor’s side as Ennis is expecting it will likely make the Dragons the best represented club in this year’s Origin series.

    However, guarding against the absence of all their best players is the contingent of internationals they have who aren’t eligible for the gruelling interstate series.

    English Test stars James Graham and Gareth Widdop will be holding down the fort for the Red V, along with New Zealand veteran Jason Nightingale.

    According to Ennis, it will be those players who determine how the Dragons survive through the mid-season craziness.

    “But guys like James Graham and Jason Nightingale and these sort of guys come with so much experience and they’ll be able to hold the fort there,” Ennis said.

    Ennis picks his NSW no. 9

    “Gareth Widdop, another Englishman, it’s so handy to have other internationals.

    “We see other sides, especially the Warriors (play well), during the Origin period.

    “So it’s testing times for the Dragons but one I think Paul McGregor will be happy with. He looks like a coach who’s happy for his player to get the recognition they deserve.”
  7. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Dragons back on the road to Mudgee next week
    Tue 8 May 2018, 03:31 PM

    The St George Illawarra Dragons will be returning to Mudgee's Glen Willow Stadium for their Round 11 clash against the Canberra Raiders at Glen Willow Stadium.

    Kicking off at the family friendly time of 2pm on Sunday, May 20, this will mark the Dragons' second time playing in front of the Mudgee faithful in 2018.

    This is following February's Westfund Charity Shield showdown against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in front of an impressive crowd.

    "One of the highlights of my childhood was when NRL teams would come to my hometown of Cairns to play games," Dragons winger Nene Macdonald said.

    "For me to now be in this position and to be heading out to Mudgee throughout the year, it's a great opportunity for the people in the area to have the same experiences I was fortunate enough to have growing up."

    Together with Mudgee's stunning heritage streetscapes and museums, boutiques, chic shopping precincts, galleries and studios, the Mudgee races will be held on Saturday, May 19.

    On top of this, all of the beautiful local wineries will have cellar doors open. It's the perfect time for a weekend away or a simple day trip to many of the Mid-Western communities including Lithgow, Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo.

    All rugby league fans from the region are encouraged to pre-purchase tickets.

    Family tickets (two adults and two children or one adult and three children) are also available for the Round 11 clash at the low price of $55.

    You can purchase your tickets to the Raiders game here.

    The Mudgee Faithful membership is also a viable option for those wanting to see both Dragons games at Glen Willow Stadium in 2018.

    Sign up for a Mudgee Faithful membership here

    For those travelling from out of town, visit for plenty of great accommodation options.
  8. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Johns anoints eight players NSW must pick for Origin

    by Ben Glover

    8th May 2018 4:24 PM
    IF Matthew Johns was picking the NSW side for Origin I, five of the eight players he would guarantee selection would be rookies.

    With St George Illawarra sitting pretty on top of the NRL ladder, Johns ran the rule over a handful of Dragons players banging down the door for a spot in the side.

    He said Brad Fittler and his selection adviser Greg Alexander must pick Dragons forwards Tariq Sims, Jack De Belin, Cameron McInnes and Paul Vaughan in the 17, alongside Blues incumbent Tyson Frizell.

    After locking in those five Dragons, Johns said he would also guarantee places to Melbourne's try-scoring machine Josh Addo-Carr, NSW skipper Boyd Cordner and Manly young gun Jake Trbojevic.

    Cameron McInnes is congratulated by Dragons teammate Tyson Frizell.
    While he was supremely confident about the form of seven of those picks, Johns raised concerns about the form of Roosters star Cordner.

    He said the star back-rower was still to develop the kind of telepathic understanding he had with Mitchell Pearce, with the club still adapting to a change in game style driven by the arrival of Cooper Cronk.

    Perhaps of greater concern for the NSW side though, is Johns' view that the No.1 jersey is still up for grabs with leading contenders James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic both down on confidence.

    "Trbojevic's confidence is down and Tedesco's confidence is down too," Johns said.

    "Two of those blokes. I reckon that jersey's still up for grabs. Tedesco or Trbojevic, whoever in the next couple of weeks finds their best form he'll be the one to get the jersey."

    Here's what Johns said about the contenders for a sky blue jersey.

    Tyson Frizell of the Dragons is tackled.

    "Frizell was mighty on the weekend. There was a few points, to me he typified the Dragons on the weekend. He got the ball and he just wanted to hurt Melbourne with and without the ball.

    "He did a couple of runs in a row and mate he just hit the line that hard and it just gave me such confidence going into this series."


    "Tariq Sims' defence on playmakers - there's a couple of guys in the competition that really defend playmakers well, one is Wade Graham, he hurt that hamstring again, which is a real worry," Johns said.

    "The other one is Tariq Sims. The ability to rush playmakers is a very, very important ingredient in big games.

    "He gives penalties away for over-aggression sometimes but I don't think that's a huge concern, over-aggression in State of Origin. I'd rather a bloke be a little over-aggressive than go into it underdone."


    "Certainty. Certainty. Just playing so good and I love the fact that about three weeks ago he come out and said, 'mate I'm ready to be picked, I'm ready for State of

    Origin'. He's saying to Freddy, 'just pick me'.

    "You've got to pick him."


    "He's playing good football, he's playing as well as he did last year.

    "He deserves his chance and he's putting monumental pressure on people like Klemmer and Woods so I think he'll get his chance."

    Boyd Cordner of the Roosters.

    "He's going to be there he's just in a bit of a tough spot at the moment, they're struggling with their style, they've got a lot of new combinations, he's relying on new playmakers in the side.

    "Boyd's strength, he had a great combination with Mitchell Pearce, they understood each other very well, they operated on the same side of the field for a long time, they were great mates and that really worked well for both of them.

    "He's missing him at the moment and he's just getting used to the new styles at the moment and things like that.

    "Freddy will pick him. Freddy loves Boyd, he brought him up into the Roosters top squad when he was just a kid, so he'll be captain, he'll be picked.

    "But it's where and how Freddy uses him. That'll be interesting."


    "I think they'll go with McInnes as the starter and Cook off the bench with his speed for impact. Everyone you've mentioned so far as far as Dragons, I don't see a reason why Freddy won't pick them."


    "He's got to be a certainty. On the weekend he's on the losing side he scores three tries, he would have had four if he got that try he deserved."


    "I'm hearing people say you don't want to blood too many rookies, I understand that but we're not winning series. So are we just going to go with the guys who haven't done it before?

    "Are we going to reward people who have been there and not done it?"


    "This is a big game for him this week because he did a great job on GI (in Round 5) and that's who he'll mark in State of Origin. he did a great job about five weeks ago and that's really elevated his status in the game.

    "He had a great game on the weekend against the Melbourne Storm, so put it this way, at ANZ Stadium this Sunday if he goes good against Inglis he's a certainty."


    "Put him in, he's a lock because he's a great player and he adds to the group, he adds to the team. I look at Jake Trbojevic and his qualities, and he's got qualities that I think NSW need.

    "That's the thing about NSW we've got wrong I think. I look at Queensland and I think, they look at attitude when they pick, as well as ability.

    "I look at Glasby last year, would we have picked Glasby? They knew he could do a job, they knew he was of the right character.

    "We look at body types, size, speed, we love the athletic ability. Start picking blokes with the right attitude like Jake Trbojevic."
  9. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Matty Johns calls for red and white NSW State of Origin core
    NRL legend Matthew Johns says St George Illawarra’s red-hot form leaves NSW captain Boyd Cordner looking at an awkward demotion.

    NRL legend Matthew Johns has declared it is impossible for NSW State of Origin selectors to overlook red-hot St George Illawarra’s six Blues hopefuls.

    Rookie coach Brad Fittler is under increasing pressure to make dramatic changes to the side that lost last year’s series with the Dragons’ impressive start to the season fuelled by their NSW-eligible forward pack.

    Johns told Triple M’s Grill Team on Tuesday five new Dragons faces should join incumbent star Tyson Frizelle in the Blues team for Origin I on June 6 at the MCG.

    NSW captain Boyd Cordner and incumbent second-rower Josh Jackson are under increasing pressure to keep their spots in the starting 13 with Johns declaring Fittler must consider going with an all-Dragons second row of Frizelle, Tariq Sims and Jack de Belin at lock.

    He said the form of hooker Cameron McInnes, prop Paul Vaughan and centre Euan Aitken also warrants a spot in the NSW line-up.

    “Frizelle was mighty on the weekend (against Melbourne),” Johns said.

    “For me, he typified the Dragons on the weekend and he just wanted to hurt Melbourne with and without the ball. He did a couple of runs in a row and he hit the line that hard, he just gave me such confidence going into this series.”

    He said Sims’ defensive pressure this year could even force Cordner to the bench.

    “I think they have to pick him, if not a starter then on the bench,” Johns said of Sims.

    “He’s applying a lot of pressure at the moment to people like Boyd Cordner and to people like Josh Jackson.

    Jack de Belin is going to get his chance.Source:Getty Images

    “Some of the incumbents, they’re under huge pressure from the lies of de Belin and Tariq Sims. Tariq Sims’ defence on playmakers, there’s a couple of guys in the comp who just defend playmakers really well one is Wade Graham — and he’s up in the air with that hamstring which is a real worry — and the other is Tariq Sims. The ability to rush playmakers is a very important ingredient in big games.”

    Meanwhile, he wants NSW to use rake McInnes in the starting team and to give Souths No. 9 Damien Cook a spot on the bench.

    He said Vaughan’s form would be making Bulldogs duo Aaron Woods and David Klemmer very nervous.

    It comes as Panthers legend Mark Geyer on Monday said he expects seven Dragons players to be selected in State of Origin this year — expecting Queensland to call on St George Illawarra halfback.

    Johns has also forecast a radical backline re-shuffle to include Aitken in the centres with Raiders star Nick Cotric and Storm flyer Josh Addo-Carr on the wings.

    Aitken’s selection would see him replace the injured Josh Dugan on NSW’s right edge, giving him a baptism of fire against Queensland superstar Greg Inglis.

    Johns said Aitken can cement his spot at right centre by keeping Inglis quiet when he Dragons face off against the Rabbitohs on Sunday at ANZ Stadium.

    “This is a really big game for him this week. He did a great job on GI and that’s who he’ll mark in State of Origin,” Johns said.

    “He did a great job on him about five weeks ago and that sort of elevated his status in the game. He had a great game on the weekend against the Melbourne Storm, so if he backs that up, put it this way, if he does a good job against Inglis he’s a certainty.”

    Former clubmates Cook and McInnes are set to square off this weekend, in what looms as a potential audition for the hooker’s role in the NSW squad for the first State of Origin game.

    The NRL match between McInnes’s St George Illawarra and Cook’s South Sydney looms as a potential mini selection Origin trial for the two men, who were Rabbitohs teammates for just one season/ McInnes started the majority of games at hooker in 2016, while Cook, who joined Souths from the Bulldogs, was primarily used off the bench.

    Cameron McInnes has one hand on a Blues jumper.Source:Getty Images

    Cook also started the 2017 season on the bench behind the vastly experienced Robbie Farah, after McInnes left to join the Dragons.

    It’s been a different story this year, with Cook starting the season in the No. 9 jersey and holding it through the Rabbitohs first nine games.

    Going to Sunday’s match at ANZ Stadium, McInnes may have an slight edge, but Cook, who started his NRL career at the Dragons in 2013, is also considered a chance of making the Blues squad.

    “I don’t think Cooky is even worried about playing Origin, or coming up against the other nine in Cam,” Souths captain Inglis said.

    “We just want Cooky to solely focus on his job, and down the track if he gets selected for Origin, then that’s gone on the back of the hard work he’s done.

    “What you guys don’t see is the hard work he’ does here, all you guys see is the 80 minutes he puts in each week.

    “But the amount of work he does here away from the cameras and that, the more we can get him focused on just doing those sort of things right, the better chance he has.” Inglis said 26-year-old Cook was growing in confidence each week and doing a number of things to help his side.

    “He’s doing the little things, his talk and his selection of pass and his running,’ Inglis said.

    “Picking the right time to run and when to ball play.

    “He’s worked on his defence all pre-season and he’s shown that he can play 80 minutes.”

    — with AAP
  10. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Zac Lomax has been named to make his NRL debut for St George Illawarra against South Sydney
    • Local Sport
      SET TO DEBUT: Temora product Zac Lomax has been named in make his first NRL appearance for St George Illawarra against South Sydney on Sunday.

    • Zac Lomax has been named to make his NRL debut for St George Illawarra against South Sydney on Sunday.

      The Temora junior has been selected to play for the high flying Dragons.

      The outside back has starred at junior representative level since moving to the Dragons as part of their SG Ball set up.

      Lomax has been named in extended squads this season but was elevated to 17 as coach Paul McGregor tries to prepare for the State Of Origin period.

      Lomax will become the second Group Nine junior to make their NRL debut this season.

      Jack Hetherington has played in all three games for Penrith since making his debut.

      The 18-year-ol is the second Temora junior in as many years to make it into the top grade following Joe Stimson at Melbourne.

  11. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    NRL fans back Peter V’landys’ calls to upgrade suburban grounds
    The Daily Telegraph
    May 9, 2018 12:33pm
    NRL independent commissioner Peter V’landys’ vow to help save Sydney’s ageing suburban grounds from oblivion has been backed by fans of the game who want to see their local grounds brought into the 21st century.

    While V’landys is a supporter of plans to upgrade Sydney’s major stadiums he is also a firm believer of the tribalism and atmosphere generated at suburban grounds WIN Stadium, Brookvale Oval, Leichhardt, Belmore Sports Ground, Shark Park, Campbelltown, Kogarah and Penrith.

    “Tribal followings come from being active attendees at games and having families in Sydney attending suburban grounds is imperative to the future popularity of the game,” V’landys told the Sunday
    “It’s absolutely shameful that an international, cosmopolitan city like Sydney does not have rugby league stadiums that are world class.

    “I’m 100 per cent supportive of the NSW Government’s initiatives that will see Parramatta, Allianz and ANZ stadiums rebuilt or upgraded.

    “However, I’m also strongly of the belief that suburban grounds have an important role to play and should also be upgraded for today’s entertainment venue standards.”

    And V’landys’ sentiment is one shared by NRL fans around Sydney.

    “NRL is about families and neighbourhood facilities not about politicians with 70,000 seat stadia and 15,000 (if lucky) spectators. Politicians at all levels are hopelessly out of touch with the general population,” Bert wrote to the Sunday Telegraph.

    “I love suburban grounds. The idiots that want to take them away just don’t get what footy is about,” wrote Simon.

    The State Government is knocking down Allianz Stadium and rebuilding the venue at a cost of $730 million, building a new $350 million venue at Parramatta and spending $810 million on redeveloping ANZ Stadium at Homebush.

    Yet no money has been committed to the suburban venues.

    V’landys - and the punters - want that to change.

    “Local grounds are stuck in 1950s standards wise,” wrote Garry. “They desperately need to be brought into the 21st century. ANZ and SFS are great for big games, but super suck for lesser games.”
  12. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Friz and the brother he wasn't allowed to grow up with
    Brad Walter Senior Reporter
    Fri 4 May 2018, 03:59 PM

    St George Illawarra star Tyson Frizell has expressed pride that the brother he was prevented from growing up alongside in Australia is now following in his footsteps by making a name for himself on the professional sporting stage.

    Shannon Frizell is being touted as a future All Black after scoring a try in his Super Rugby starting debut for the Highlanders last month and grabbing a hat-trick the following weekend but like Tyson, who was a member of Australia’s World Cup-winning team, he is also eligible for Wales and Tonga.

    In a twist on the age-old nature versus nurture debate, the brothers were forced to grow up separately as Shannon, who is two years younger than Tyson, was not allowed to live with his adopted family in Australia.

    However, they were still able to maintain a close relationship as Tyson would regularly visit Tonga with his parents, Andrew and Sophia, and younger brother, Zion-Mateo, to spend time with Shannon.

    "It is something that is pretty common in Tongan culture, to adopt a kid from another family, but he wasn’t able to come over and live with us," Frizell told

    "My mum fought hard at that time to get him over but wasn’t allowed for some reason. The immigration laws stopped him coming over and that is why we spent so much time over there at that time, so we could be with him.

    Shannon and Tyson Frizell. :copyright:NRL Photos
    "We used to go back to Tonga twice a year to hang out with him and see the family over in Tonga."

    In Tonga, the brothers would play rugby union together, while Shannon went to school with Warriors centre Solomone Kate and Titans star Konrad Hurrell.

    Their mother, Sophia, is from the same village, Navai-Folaha, as the mothers of Parramatta centre Michael Jennings and former Melbourne and Broncos star Israel Folau, who now plays for the Wallabies but is believed to be considering a return to the NRL.

    However, 26-year-old Tyson said neither he or Shannon, 24, considered they would play either rugby code at an elite level.

    "I used to go over there and play in village tournaments with Shannon when we were about 14 or 15," the Dragons second-rower said.

    “I was a big, tubby thing and he was a tall, skinny thing but nothing like that was ever thought about and I don’t think we ever imagined being where we are today or even thought it was possible.

    "I think we both just grew up playing footy and we enjoyed footy. I don’t think we ever thought we could make a career of it. It wasn’t spoken about at all. It probably seemed like something that was too hard to reach.

    "Konrad Hurrell has come from Tonga and he is doing well and Shannon also went to school with Solomone Kata but growing up in Tonga, there is not really any opportunity at all to have a career in sport or anything like that.

    "I have been very lucky to get to where I am now and I guess Shannon is just starting what will hopefully be a long and successful career. It is good to see kids who come from a small island like Tonga be able to make something of their lives through sport."

    Dragons v Storm - Round 9

    Frizell could also have chosen to play Super Rugby but he turned down an offer to join the NSW Waratahs academy after representing Australian Schoolboys in 2009 to sign with Cronulla.

    The potential loss for Rugby Australia is now two-fold as Shannon does not qualify to play for the Wallabies, but he is eligible to play for Wales through Swansea-born Andrew.

    "Dad was able to get him a British passport and he is able to do whatever he likes now," Frizell said. "Wales is a massive rugby country and he could play for Wales, he could be an All Black or he could play for Tonga."

    Tyson played for Wales in 2011 and 2013 and the NSW Origin forward revealed he had been in discussions to represent them again at last year’s World Cup if he wasn’t selected by Australia.

    Despite his grandfather being a founder of the Tongan community in Wollongong, Frizell said he had not been approached to join the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita in playing for the Mate Ma’a, but was already committed to Wales.

    "Even though they weren’t really strong, I was in contact with Wales and I was going to go and have a World Cup for them if I didn’t get picked for Australia," he said.

    "I just felt at that stage that Wales were the ones who gave me the opportunity to play international footy when I was 19 and I had played in the last World Cup for them.

    "Look at the impact Jason and Andrew had for Tonga. You never know I might have had an impact for Wales, and maybe helped grow the game in Wales."

    We used to go back to Tonga twice a year to hang out with him and see the family over in Tonga.

    Tyson Frizell
    However, the Corrimal Cougars junior hasn’t ruled out playing for Tonga later in his career to honour his large Tongan family in Wollongong, who regularly attend Telstra Premiership matches to support him.

    "My grandfather’s nickname is 'Captain' because he says he is the first Tongan to come to Wollongong and my mum is the eldest of eight children, so I have got lots of cousins and first cousins in Wollongong," Frizell said.

    "I love my Tongan side and I have grown up with Tongan traditions but Australia will always be my No.1 choice and my parents know that.

    "I guess one day they might want to see my put on the red jersey [of Tonga] but for now I love wearing the green and gold and that is all I want to be doing."
    Gareth67 likes this.
  13. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    St George Illawarra: Hunt at ease in Dragons furnace
    Local Sport
    LIVING FREE: Dragons halfback Ben Hunt. Picture: AAP

    IF only Lee Majors made being the Six Million Dollar Man look as easy as Dragons halfback Ben Hunt. Then again, it probably wouldn’t have been much of a show.

    Certainly not as good as the one Hunt is putting on at the Dragons this season, looking decidedly unburdened by the expectation that accompanied his arrival.

    Having orchestrated an 8-1 start to the year, he’s yet to feel the wrath of a disgruntled red v fanbase, but the 28-year-old says he’s never felt less pressure.

    “Everyone talked about pressure coming down here in the off-season and stuff like that but, right from the start, I was feeling pretty comfortable,” Hunt said.

    “Mary [coach Paul McGregor] always said from the start he wants me to play my style of footy, just go out there and play how he knows I can.

    “He’s been really good in that way and backing me to just go play footy. That belief he had in me, I felt pretty confident coming down here that I could do that.

    “I knew we had a good side and it hasn’t really weighed on me at all. I don’t feel like there’s any pressure, I just go out there and do what I like doing.”

    His form over the opening nine rounds this season has matched that which spearheaded the Broncos to the 2015 decider and saw him claim a maiden Test jumper that same year.

    He wore the Australian jumper again last year but, having been dropped to reserve grade a matter of months before that, he knows how quickly things can change.

    It’s why he’s had no problem tempering the hype that even Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has bought into following his side's defeat to the Dragons last week.

    “I wouldn’t say it makes us favourites yet,” Hunt said of the victory.

    “There’s some quality teams out there. The team we’re playing this week, Souths, are one of them.

    “I’m not worried about [complacency] myself, but I know it can tend to creep into some sides when you’re having some success.

    “You start getting ahead of yourself and think you’re going better than you are and you lose two, three games in a row and you’re falling apart. All of a sudden, you’re out the back door.

    “I felt like that in the past being part of a Broncos team where I was playing 10 minutes off the bench and thinking I was going better than I was.

    “Then I started playing a fulltime role, there was a bit more weight on my shoulders, and I realised it’s not as easy as I thought.

    “That’s something, between the coaching staff and the players, we’ve got to hold together.”

    His roller coaster 2017 campaign included a largely unexpected Origin debut for Queensland but it’s his omission that would come as a shock this year.

    Hunt’s rapidly firming to claim the No.7 jumper left vacant by the rep retirement of Cooper Cronk, but would happily reprise his bench utility role.

    He’d just as happily partner Cameron Munster in the halves, making light of the dust-up in Kangaroos that saw the Storm five-eighth disciplined during last year’s World Cup.

    “I saw him after the game on Sunday and said ‘come have a chat if you don’t want to fight me’,” Hunt joked.

    “He’s a bit of a pest but I’d have no troubles rooming with him. There’s no problems there at all.

    “I definitely want to be in that side, whether it’s in the number seven or on the bench again I don’t really mind.

    “Just to play for your state is a massive honour and to be in the team anywhere, I’d be pretty happy with that.”
  14. Gareth67

    Gareth67 Bench

    May 28, 2016
    Likes Received:
    getsmarty , his brother Shannon is a big lump of a lad , larger than Tyson . I wonder if he has abilities to match and if so would it be worthwhile considering to lure him over to the Big Red V ? If he has half the amount of determination as Tyson possesses then he would certainly be a good buy .
  15. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    dragonssamy61 likes this.
  16. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Mudgee member event (May 19)
    Thu 10 May 2018, 10:02 AM

    Red V Members are exclusively invited to watch the Dragons captain's run (training session) and meet the players afterwards.

    Saturday 19 May 2018
    10:30am - 11:30am
    Glen Willow Regional Sports Stadium

    Please register your attendance by emailing your full name and member number to [email protected] by May 17th.

    Wear your red and white: the best dressed member at captain's run will be chosen to toss the coin at Round 11.

    For other member event information please click here.
  17. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Dragons 2017: Vaughan happy to take backseat in NSW Origin debate
    Dragons Den News
    SPECIAL: llawarra Koori Men’s Support Group's Uncle Gerald Browne presents Paul Vaughan with his Indigenous Round jumper. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

    IT was all he was asked about this time last year but Dragons prop Paul Vaughan is relieved to be quietly pushing his NSW selection case this season.

    Vaughan’s push for a maiden Blues jumper was one the major talking points surrounding the Dragons fast start to last season, with many considering him unlucky to ultimately miss out.

    This season, he’s part of ensemble act, with as many as seven Dragons expected to don Origin jumpers.

    The likes of Jack de Belin and Tariq Sims have been particularly loud in their sales pitch – on and off the paddock – and Vaughan said he’s appreciated the chance to go quietly about his business.

    “It’s been good, a few boys have been taking the heat off, it’s been great,” Vaughan said.

    “I’m all for it though. If you’re going to say that and you back it up then why not? Bomber [de Belin] is obviously a great player and I thought he was ready to play Origin last year.

    “I think this year he’s got to be a certainty. Cam [McInnes] would be great for Origin, he’s such a tough player, Simsy’s been on the brink for however many years. He’s back playing his best football.”

    Being deemed surplus to requirements by Canberra was another factor driving the narrative around Vaughan in 2017, another thing he’s happy to be free of this season.

    With that campaign now behind him, Vaughan believes he’s ready to claim a maiden Blues jumper, even if he’s not shouting it from the rooftops.

    “Me personally, I don’t think I was ready to play Origin last year,” Vaughan said.

    “It was more about getting my career back on track after [leaving Canberra], cementing my position in the team and getting back to playing good football.

    “I think I can still play better footy this year, I’m still looking to improve. We’re playing great at the moment and we’re sitting on top [of the ladder]. We’ve still got a long way to go with our football and a lot to improve on so it’s looking good.”

    While he’s the first to admit an Origin debut would’ve been premature last year, Vaughan said frank chats with coach Paul McGregor leave him with no doubt as to his readiness this year.

    “Mary’s really good in the fact he does sit down and go through all your goals with you and gives you all the confidence to achieve those goals,” Vaughan said.

    “He’s always been very thorough with the things I need to work on and we’ve never shied away from that. I haven’t had that before and he’s been really great for me.

    “He’s one of the best coaches I’ve had and it’s great he’s got that confidence in me to reach my potential.”
    Frank Facer and ALSGI like this.
  18. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Hunt to partner Munster for QLD
    • Dragons Den News
      SHOO-IN: The Queensland No. 7 is Ben Hunt's to lose. Picture: AAP

    • Ben Hunt and Cameron Munster have been anointed the front-runners to take over the playmaking reins from Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk in a new State of Origin era for Queensland.

      Barring any dramatic developments between now and the series opener on June 6, Hunt’s scintillating form at St George Illawarra will see him join Munster in the halves, according to chief selector Gene Miles.

      The pair will be given ‘‘first crack’’ at the positions and performances will then dictate whether the Maroons pick and stick, or shuffle through their options.

      Finding an all-new halves combination is a problem Queensland hasn’t had to deal with for more than a decade, with Thurston and Cronk both mainstays during the team’s incredible run of success.

      Miles said Cronk’s old No.7 jersey was Hunt’s to lose on the back of his scintillating form since moving to the Dragons on a multi-million dollar deal.

      ‘‘Anyone that hasn’t been impressed with his form for the first nine rounds is pretty hard to please,’’ Miles told reporters on Thursday.

      ‘‘They’re getting good value for the money that they’ve paid. Although he only had a very short stint in game three last year with us, he’s done everything right up until now.

      ‘‘I just hope he stays healthy now and continues on that winning form because it’s very hard to ignore.’’

      Hunt’s performances will likely mean Michael Morgan remains in a bench utility role for Queensland, while Munster - who made his Origin debut at the same time as Hunt, in game three last year - is in line to play at five-eighth.

      ‘‘He’s playing extremely well for Melbourne ... he just has to continue that form to claim that,’’ Miles said.
  19. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    KICKOFF: Rookie Lomax one to watch
    Dragons Den News
    LOOKING THE GOODS: Dragons young-gun Zac Lomax in action as a youngster with the Illawarra Steelers junior reps.

    I can clearly remember the first time I saw Dragons young-gun Zac Lomax in action two years ago – I knew I was watching something special.

    By now most fans, Dragons ones at least, no the name. If they didn’t they do now after he was named to debut against the Rabbitohs this week. He’s picked up a swag of junior honours, rep jumpers yada, yada, yada. We’ve heard all that before.

    Kickoff has long bemoaned the NYC competition as one of the game’s great mistakes. As such, we’ve always looked at under 20s standouts with skepticism.

    That’s why this column’s belief that Lomax looks the goods isn’t based on his exploits at WIN Stadium, or ANZ Stadium but the iconic Gibson Park Thirroul.

    It was an Illawarra league match. Lomax was yet to turn 17 (sshhh don’t tell anyone) when he lined up for the Butchers against the league-leaders Wests.

    In the centres he directly opposed Junior Vaivai, the best three-quarter in the league who’s now playing with Huddersfield in Super League.

    It was a tough baptism early on, but Lomax held his own and got his own back in the second half, pulling the Butchers back into the game as they almost overturned a 26-0 deficit.

    For a 16-year-old kid to do that in a men’s league as tough as the Illawarra’s, you knew, there and then, that he was the real deal.
    ALSGI and dragonssamy61 like this.
  20. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

    Jun 23, 2009
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    Dragons 2017: Kurt shaping as rep season handyman
    Dragons Den News
    KEY COG: Dragons utility is shaping as coach Paul McGregor's one-size-fits-all solution in what's likely to be a tough rep period. Picture: NRL imagery

    ST GEORGE Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has plenty of tools at his disposal this season but, as a demanding representative period approaches, utility Kurt Mann is shaping as his Allen key.

    Plenty has been made of the looming rep season and it’s potential to derail the Dragons campaign, with a host of stars in line for Test and Origin call-ups.

    The club’s rep aspirants include include the entire forward pack, halves Ben Hunt and Gareth Widdop and centre Euan Aitken, making Mann a key cog in his side’s premiership charge.

    Coach Paul McGregor will use the 25-year-old as cover for any position in the back-line while his newfound ability to play in the middle makes him the likely shadow for Cam McInnes.

    Hell, he’d even put his hand up to play in the front-row having ticked that box on his utility list against Gold Coast in round three.

    Having played wildly differing minutes across multiple positions in his previous two seasons with the club, Mann said he's relishing the chance to make a regular contribution in the middle of the park.

    “At points it gets pretty frustrating when you’re not playing long minutes or your constantly changing positions and that sort of thing,” Mann said.

    “Middle is something I’ve added this year that I’m able to do week in week out and that’s something I’m really enjoying.

    “It’s something that’s been pretty steady and consistent for me now. I get to get on in that period before halftime and [McGregor] gives me free reign to do what I want.

    “I can still play a ball-playing role when I’m playing lock and I don’t mind the contact.

    “I like it, it’s a bit of a change for me and I’ve played every position on the field now.”

    While he's embraced the shift, Mann said he hasn't forgotten how to play in the halves or our out wide if called upon to do so.

    “I’m pretty much playing like an extra half in the middle when I get out there at the moment,” Mann said.

    “I play a bit different to how Bomber [Jack de Belin] plays. He’s our big enforcer and I get out there and play as a ball-player in the middle so I’ve still got that under raps.

    “The centres [ability] is not something I’m going to lose the amount of times I’ve played there.”

    It's yet to become a major talking point, but Mann said McGregor has touched on the contribution the club's second unit will have to make, on the playing and training paddock, when the big guns are away.

    “Last year we started in a similar sort of fashion and then the Origin period disrupted us a little bit,” Mann said.

    “Our focus got shifted there and we went downhill after that but I think this year everyone’s a lot more level-headed, us as players and the coaching staff.

    “Mary’s spoken to me briefly about how I’m going to have to step up because I’ll probably be playing bigger minutes there along with Leeson [Ah Mau] and few of the other boys who are still going to be here.”

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