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

  1. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    'Are you going to look after my mum?' NRL comp breaking barriers
    • Local Sport
      Big hitter: Dragons recruit Oneata Schwalger.
      It's easy to see why she reckons she was fouled out every second game of basketball in her youth, and laughed when told the only rugby league-type avenue she could pursue when she moved to Western Australia was OzTag. If it doesn't involve a big contact or huge collision, it doesn't interest her.

      But when it came to sacrificing a couple of months with her kids to be part of the new NRL women's rugby league competition, her youngest son Malaki needed a verbal contract before his mum could sign a written one.

      "My youngest had some questions he wanted to ask the coach [Daniel Lacey]," Dragons recruit Schwalger laughed. "My son asked, 'is mummy going to be safe? Where’s she staying? Are you going to look after her?' It was really cool."

      Read more: Illawarra league pioneers lay on historic Blues win

      There are dozens of personal reasons why prospective semi-professional rugby league players either side of the Tasman might be hesitant to dip their toe into the water for the NRL's inaugural foray into a women's competition, featuring the Dragons, Roosters, Broncos and Warriors.

      Then there's the dual international who will leave her sons behind for a couple of months to try to make it under the bright lights.

      Her mother will look after the kids in Melbourne while she's in Wollongong.

      In the meantime she has previously quit corporate work and a job as a youth worker to earn coin on the railways in the middle of the freezing winter nights in Melbourne. The work's casual, it pays well and importantly allows her to train and travel if she needs to.

      On a modest deal for the NRL women's league, Schwalger is already searching for employment in Wollongong when she shifts north.

      Read more: All the action shots from the first Women's Origin match

      "I’ll work at Macca’s if I have to," she said. "We’re not getting $100,000 contracts so I’ve got a chance to pick up work during normal business hours. I’ve got to make sure my kids are good and once they’re good I can work everything else out around them."

      Schwalger, who has played rugby union for Australia and league for Samoa and is a cousin of St George Illawarra centre Tim Lafai, knows a few mothers in the different NRL teams. But when you have two sons, Diego (11) and Malaki (10), who are almost teenagers, it's an altogether different sacrifice to try to make it at the elite level.

      Their excuses are nothing and I just say, 'I’ve got two boys and if I can do it you guys can too.

      "I had them very young," Schwalger said. "I know a few mums as well – probably about one or two each team – but they’ll obviously be locally based to be near their kids.

      "I hope it does inspire other women that they can do this. When I catch up with other girls at other training sessions, their excuses are nothing and I just say, 'I’ve got two boys and if I can do it you guys can too.'

      "I had to talk to my boys and my mum and I know for myself to get the benefits I’ve got to move [to Wollongong], be there day in day out to get the benefits of training and to get to know the girls to really make the most of it.

      "It’s only eight weeks and that’s how I sold it to them. It’s only short term and not forever."

      But it might make an impact lasting just as long if a mother-of-two living away from her sons can make it in the short-term competition.

      A rugby union-mad Schwalger, whose brother John won two caps for the All Blacks, played with boys when she was younger until a rival school official complained girls shouldn't be pitted against the other sex. She had to stop.

      In between stints in almost foreign rugby league markets such as Perth and Melbourne, she has craved a competition to play in. Any competition. She's found the one she wanted. And her boys now know it's the right one.

    • https://www.illawarramercury.com.au...after-my-mum-nrl-comp-breaks-barriers/?cs=302
     
  2. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Dragons Origin stars confident of leading team in finals charge
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    Determined: Paul Vaughan. Picture: AAP Image/David Moir

    When the St George Illawarra Dragons were flying high in the opening months of the season their biggest fear was the team would be decimated by Origin selection.

    The side’s stars have been rewarded for their early-season form, with Tyson Frizell, Jack de Belin, Paul Vaughan and now Tariq Sims selected for NSW and Ben Hunt representing Queensland, but those in blue are confident it won’t spell doom for the Dragons run to the finals.

    Instead, the team’s Blues representatives are firm in the belief they will take the momentum from an Origin series win back to the NRL and lead the side to an even rarer premiership charge.

    “It’s a little bit surreal at the moment,” prop Paul Vaughan said.

    “The Origin series win, that was obviously pretty cool, and with the Saints going the way they are, we’re obviously going pretty strong, we’re humming a little bit.

    “We weren’t last weekend, we were pretty bad on Thursday. We still got the win though and if all the boys can come back healthy after the representative duties, we’ll give it a fair shake.

    “It’s a dream to win a premiership, it’s what you want to do as a young fella, it’s why you play the game and why you put the hard yards in every day for your professional career. If we got a chance to do that, I’d be over the moon.”

    Currently sitting atop the NRL ladder, it would take a capitulation of even greater proportions than last year’s epic collapse for the side to miss the finals this season.

    A top-eight finish would mark the side’s first finals appearance since 2015 and just their second since 2011.

    With little finals experience to draw on, it’s these opportunities on perhaps rugby league’s biggest stage that will prove vital come the business end of the of the NRL season according to Tyson Frizell.

    “This big game experience is really important,” Frizell said. “A few of the boys, even myself, haven’t played too many finals games before and these games give you that taste of what finals footy’s about.

    “Finals footy is very tough footy and Origin gets the boys in good stead to know they can be up for it when the time comes.”

    Frizell sat out the Dragons gritty two-point win over the Eels last weekend and he believes it’s the side’s Origin representatives’ responsibility to return to Wollongong following next Wednesday’s match and provide a spark throughout the final eight rounds of the season.

    “We’ll definitely take momentum out of the Origin victory. The confidence the boys have shown and what they can take out of being a part of Origin and being able to play in such a tough and physical game.

    “It’s the hardest game you’ll ever play and to be able to know that you can hold your own and play well, it definitely gives you confidence going back into club footy. We definitely need to pick up the boys through this part of the year and get going for the rest of the season and hopefully the finals series.”

    While he has one more Origin assignment ahead of him, Vaughan can’t wait to get back to the Dragons and make a run at the finals.

    “It’s a pretty cool feeling to go back there, sitting on top at the moment,” Vaughan said. “We’re winning games which is really nice. If you ask any of the boys they’ll be stoked to get back there, we’ve built a good culture there and everything’s been going awesome.”


    https://www.illawarramercury.com.au...ent-of-leading-team-in-finals-charge/?cs=3713
     
  3. hewi

    hewi Juniors

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  4. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    [​IMG]






    DRAGONS


    Nicholls to become oldest rookie in NRL era
    Author
    Brad Walter Senior Reporter
    Timestamp
    Tue 3 Jul 2018, 09:39 PM

    Darren Nicholls has waited a decade to make his NRL debut but Dragons coach Paul McGregor has been preparing for the 29-year-old playmaker to fill Ben Hunt’s No.7 jersey during State of Origin since the pre-season.

    Nicholls, who has previously played lower grades for Penrith, Wests Tigers, South Sydney and Brisbane, will become the oldest debutant in NRL history after being one of five players called in to deputise for St George Illawarra’s Origin stars on Thursday night against Melbourne at AAMI Park.

    The playmaker, who also deputised for Hunt at the Broncos, won the NSWRL Chairman’s Medal as player of the match in last year’s Intrust Super Premiership grand final and led the Panthers to victory in the State Championship final against PNG Hunters before joining the Dragons.

    He partnered Gareth Widdop in the halves during February’s pre-season clash with Super League club Hull FC and has been working with him at training in anticipation of Hunt being unavailable for a match due to Origin commitments with Queensland.

    Nichols will become the oldest player to make his debut at the elite level since former Illawarra Steelers fullback Mark Taylor, who played three matches alongside future Dragons coach Paul McGregor in 1994.

    According to League Information Services statistician David Middleton, Taylor was 29 years and 323 days old when he made his debut on July 10, 1994 against the Gold Coast Seagulls.

    Nicholls will be 29 years and 80 days old in Thursday night's Telstra Premiership match against the Storm.

    [​IMG]
    New Dragons No.7 Darren Nicholls.
    Irish winger Brian Carney was 29 years and 260 days old when he made his NRL debut for Newcastle in 2006, while French prop Remi Casty was 29 years and 106 days old in his first appearance for Sydney Roosters in 2014 but both were internationals who had played at an elite level in Super League.

    Nicholls is 18th on the list of oldest players, behind the likes of John Lang, Frano Botica, Andy Platt and Tiaan Strauss, to have made their premiership debuts since 1980, but all had played elsewhere at an elite level, including rugby union, or debuted before the formation of the NRL in 1998.

    Nicholls, who turned 29 on April 15, will play halfback against the Storm behind a new-look Dragons pack, which features Intrust Super Premiership teammates Blake Lawrie, Jacob Host and Luciano Leilua.

    Interchange prop Leeson Ah Mau will start for the first time this season, while Hame Sele and hooker Reece Robinson were named on the bench, along with Jeremy Latimore and Jason Nightingale.

    With the Dragons in equal third place on the ISP ladder, Nicholls said the replacements would go into the match against the Storm confident they were capable of helping the club remain as outright NRL leaders.

    “We are doing really well as a club,” Nicholls said. “Coming first and third is a good position to be in. We started slowly in the ISP but we are going in the right direction.

    “When you are winning, you have that confidence and you don’t want a losing culture so with us winning as well as first grade the club has been successful for most of the year.”

    Lawrie, Host and Leilua all played in last Thursday night's 20-18 defeat of Parramatta, while Sele and Robinson have also had a taste of NRL action this season but Nicholls has been waiting for his chance for a decade after playing with the Tigers in 2008.

    He played two years in France before returning to play for Wyong, had a season with Souths in 2013, joined the Broncos in 2014, linked again with the Rabbitohs in 2015 and moved back to Brisbane in 2016 before playing for Penrith in 2017.

    [​IMG]
    Dragons forward Blake Lawrie.
    "It's been a journey for me," he said. "I played Under 20s at the Tigers and had one year of reserves at the Tigers, then spent two years over in France, playing there, and have been in the Broncos system, at the Panthers and also Souths, then here [Dragons]."

    Nicholls was signed by the Dragons as cover for Hunt and has been spent time at training with Widdop. He was rested from last weekend’s 22-18 win over Western Suburbs Magpies in anticipation of playing in Melbourne.

    "I have done a few opposed sessions and been in with Gareth in the halves trying to work on that combination," he said.

    Leilua said he and the other Dragons players were pleased Nicholls would finally get his chance against the Storm.

    “Congratulations to Darren, he has been waiting for a long time for this and it is good that he is debuting at our club,” Leilua said.

    The 21-year-old forward is also pleased by Tariq Sims selection in the NSW squad after the pair had vied for the left second-row position made vacant by Joel Thompson’s departure to Manly during the pre-season.

    Sims won the spot and hasn’t looked back but Leilua said he was keen to deputise for him against Melbourne and had been told by McGregor to expect to play the full 80 minutes.

    “We were both pushing each other but it is good that he got the starting spot and look where he is now, he is playing State of Origin,” Leilua said. “I will step into his shoes, he has set the bar really high and I have just got to go in there and do my job for the team.”


    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/07/04/nicholls-to-become-oldest-rookie-in-nrl-era/
     
  5. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Queensland defied own 'pick and stick' mantra in axing Ben Hunt for Origin III: Paul McGregor
    • Local Sport
      [​IMG]
      Dumped: A forlorn Ben Hunt reflects after NSW sealed a series win against Queensland in State of Origin II. Picture: AAP Image

    • Paul McGregor believes Queensland have defied their own “pick and stick” policy in axing St George Illawarra halfback Ben Hunt to the bench for State of Origin III.

      Hunt has been relegated from the Maroons’ starting side for next Wednesday night’s clash in Brisbane as NSW attempt to complete their first clean sweep of Queensland since 2000.

      The Dragons No.7 has led St George Illawarra to the top of the NRL table after 16 rounds but has paid the price for an unhappy showing in Origin II with Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans given a chance to end his own Origin exile.

      Queensland coach Kevin Walters had earmarked Hunt to help lead Queensland into a new era without Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith before the start of the series.

      And Dragons coach McGregor said the decision to drop Hunt to an interchange role after two Origin losses meant Queensland had gone against their fabled loyalty mantra.

      “They haven’t lost for a while. Losing challenges you in all different areas,” he said.

      “They’ve been very fortunate to have stability in their side. You talk about players in that team that will go down as all-time best in 10 years time. I’ll never see a couple of those players again in my lifetime.

      “So for me it was a good opportunity this year for NSW. [Queensland have] lost the first two games, they’ve made change. That’s their choice.

      “You ask me the question would I have made the change? No, definitely not. Am I disappointed for Ben? Absolutely. But he’s not in my care at the moment, he’s in Queensland’s care. He’s been working his whole life to play for Queensland.

      “The pressure is a little bit off him and on others now so he can relax, enjoy the week. He’s still fortunate enough to be in the 17 which is a fantastic thing for any person to play for his state. They get the choice to choose who they feel their best squad is and Benny is still in that squad.”

      McGregor was pleased with how Hunt responded to his Origin disappointment, getting St George Illawarra over the line against Parramatta in the last 20 minutes last Thursday night.

      Hunt was in good spirits according to his coach despite the disappointment of his demotion, with McGregor backing Hunt to have a strong impact for Queensland off the bench.

      “I’m definitely disappointed for Benny. I’m happy for NSW because I’m a New South Welshman. But I am certainly disappointed on an individual basis for Benny. However, he will do a very good job off the interchange. Certainly as a New South Welshman with Benny coming on in that dummy-half role one would think, he could cause some trouble late in the game,” he said.

      “It sort of gives Queensland a different dimension. But I still feel that Benny didn’t do enough wrong but I’m not a selector or a Queenslander. So I’m happy as a New South Welshman that he won’t be wearing seven.

      “He’s still an important member of their team. He’s not wearing their seven but he’s in their 17. He can still make a huge difference in his performance off the interchange when given the opportunity as a nine or a seven.”

    https://www.theleader.com.au/story/...-stick-mantra-in-axing-hunt-mcgregor/?cs=1633
     
  6. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Dragons 2018: Nicholls to make long-awaited NRL debut
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    WAIT LIFTED: Darren Nicholls will make his NRL debut on Thursday. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

    PAUL McGregor has handed out plenty of debuts in his three and a half years as Dragons coach, but few have been more satisfying than the one he’ll give halfback Darren Nicholls against Melbourne on Thursday.

    The 29-year-old will become of the oldest debutants in recent NRL history when he runs out at AAMI Park in the No. 7 jumper as a replacement for the Origin-tied Ben Hunt.

    The Holy Cross Rhinos product has never been out of work as a player, having been fulltime at South Sydney, Brisbane and Penrith, though a top-grade debut has proven elusive.

    That will change on Thursday, with McGregor going with Nicholls despite having utility Kurt Mann and young-gun Jai Field as options.

    “It’s outstanding. Number one, he’s a really good person and you can see why he’s been in so many [full-time] systems, because of that,” McGregor said.

    “He works hard at training, he’s perfect to have in a squad when you’re playing opposed and get the reserve grade throw the opposition attack at you. He does that very well. For me he’s a genuine halfback, he’s got a great kicking game, defensively he’s improved out of sight this year.

    “There’s not better person to get the reward than Dessy on Thursday. It’s certainly a good opportunity for a lot of our players who’ve been waiting for this chance around Origin time.

    “There’s a lot of excitement in the shed and those guys who’ve been waiting for the opportunity need to go out there and really give their all.”

    It’s been a decade in the making for Nicholls who will be the oldest debut half of the NRL era.

    "It's been a journey for me,” Nicholls said..

    ‘‘I think as a footy player you can always imagine yourself playing the top grade and there are times where there are injuries and you think it could be your go.

    ‘‘Ben has been good for numerous years and when I signed here I knew there would be an opportunity around Origin time and that sort of stuff. It came into my decision to come here.’’

    Nicholls gets the chance in the absence of Hunt, who was dumped as Maroons halfback after wearing the brunt of criticism for Queensland’s 2-0 series loss.

    He has been retained as a bench utility, with Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans to wear the No. 7. It’s a move at odds with the Maroons often espoused ‘pick-and-stick policy, something McGregor hinted at on Wednesday.

    ‘‘Looks like it, doesn’t it? They haven’t lost for a while so I think losing challenges them in all different areas,” he said.

    “I’m happy for NSW because I’m a New South Welshman, but I am certainly disappointed on an individual basis for Benny. Would I have made the change? No, definitely not, but it’s not up to me.

    “He will do a very good job off the interchange. With Benny coming on in that dummy half - which one would think - he could cause some trouble late in the game.

    ‘It gives Queensland a different dimension but I still feel that Benny didn’t do enough wrong [to be dropped] but I’m not a selector and I’m not a Queenslander.

    “He’s had some very good games for our club and when he comes back, which will be after this game, he’s got eight weeks to finish the season how he’s played the first two thirds of it.’’


    https://www.illawarramercury.com.au...ence-pays-off-for-veteran-journeymen/?cs=3713
     
  7. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    [​IMG]


    STATE OF ORIGIN


    Sims creating history in footsteps of sister
    Author
    Brad Walter Senior Reporter
    Timestamp
    Wed 4 Jul 2018, 04:01 PM

    NSW forward Tariq Sims has declared his pride at becoming the first State of Origin player to follow in the footsteps of his sister.

    While there have been 14 sets of siblings to have played Origin, Tariq and Ruan Sims are the first brother and sister to appear in the interstate arena after the St George Illawarra second rower's call-up for the Blues in next Wednesday's series finale at Suncorp Stadium.

    Sims and his younger brother Korbin have previously been involved in Origin camps with NSW and Queensland but Ruan is the only member of the rugby league family, which includes brother Ashton and sister CJ, to have played in the interstate arena.

    "Ruan has cut a pretty hard path for us to follow and she casts a pretty big shadow," Sims told NRL.com. "My bigger sister is definitely a huge influence and someone I try to aspire to be like.

    "I will always look up to her because she has done so much and achieved so much in her sporting career. It's not just footy, because she has represented NSW and Australia in so many areas it is ridiculous."

    Ruan is the Blues and Jillaroos captain but missed the recent Women's Holden State of Origin match after breaking her wrist playing for NSW Country at last month's Harvey Norman National Championship.

    [​IMG]
    NSW forward Tariq Sims. :copyright:Grant Trouville/NRL Photos
    She was also left sporting a black eye after a match against Queensland City and there are suggestions CJ was responsible for the damage.

    "That's unconfirmed but there is a bit of sibling rivalry there," Tariq said.

    However, he had no hesitation confirming which of the five siblings hits the hardest in defence.

    "I would definitely say Ruan, you have just got to look at her highlights reel or type in her name [to a search engine]. She is someone I'd hate to get on the bad side of," he said.

    After only learning of his selection for Origin III when introduced on stage as No.14 when the Blues team was announced at a function on Monday, Sims had wanted to call his family but the NSW players were under a mobile phone ban except for 15 minutes after they got to their Coogee hotel.

    When he finally turned his phone on, Sims was inundated with messages of congratulations and he saw Ruan during the filming of Channel Nine's 100% Footy show, which she co-hosts, on Monday night.

    "I had a little monitor there and I could see her talking about me and see her swelling with pride," Sims said. "That really hit home and I had to duck off to the side."

    He also spoke on the phone to wife, Ashleigh, father Peter and brother Ashton, who now plays for the Toronto Wolfpack and whom he has previously played alongside for North Queensland and Fiji, along with Korbin.

    "Ashton is very excited. He was at the Cowboys when I broke my leg both times and he has seen what I have had to go through to get my career back on track, just to play NRL," Sims said. "To finally be so close to playing an Origin game is unbelievable. My whole family is ecstatic."

    [​IMG]
    Ruan and Tariq Sims. :copyright:Paul Barkley/NRL Photos
    Dragons coach Paul McGregor said Sims deserved his Origin selection after starting the season in a battle with Luciano Leilua for the left second-row position made vacant by Joel Thompson's departure to Manly.

    "He actually came to me when Joel left and said I really want that opportunity, and I said let's go about earning it," McGregor said. "I thought he had a magnificent pre-season, he is a big body and the work he does around having that big body gets to what you see on the weekend.

    "His trial form wasn't the best but once it came to round one he has been the most consistent forward in our club so to get the reward, it is a good story.

    "He has had his setbacks along the way as well and some people would have fallen away from the game but he fell towards it and he is doing a magnificent job for us, and I am sure he will do the same for NSW against Queensland.

    "He has earned that jumper through his performance during the year and I think he is getting better as the year has gone on."

    [​IMG]


    https://www.dragons.com.au/news/2018/07/05/sims-creating-history-in-footsteps-of-sister/
     
  8. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    [​IMG]


    WARRIORS


    Leeson Ah Mau signs with Warriors for 2019
    Author
    NRL.com
    Timestamp
    Mon 9 Jul 2018, 02:13 PM

    Dragons prop Leeson Ah Mau will return to the New Zealand Warriors next season on a three-year deal.

    Ah Mau, who made his NRL debut with the Warriors in 2009, has spent the past seven seasons at St George Illawarra and has played 16 Tests for Samoa.

    "Leeson will be a wonderful addition to our squad from next season," Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said.

    "He's a big forward who is consistently one of the Dragons' best week in, week out. He fits the mould of the type of player we're building our squad around – tough, durable and with a tremendous attitude in all he does on and off the field.

    "We've always had an interest in him as did a number of clubs, so we're really excited he was keen to come back home and join the club he started with."

    Ah Mau was the Dragons' player of the year in 2015 and the club's director of rugby league pathways Ian Millward said he'd be missed.

    "Leeson is a player we tried to retain but we also understood that there were a lot of other implications and they're not always about money," Millward said.

    "He's given outstanding service – not only this season, but his previous seasons – and he's been a real benchmark for our other forwards in terms of how he's gone about his business and the way he's played the game.

    "At the end of the day, we're really delighted he's been able to secure a contract. We understand the reasons why he didn't accept our offer and we can't applaud him enough for what he's done for the Dragons.

    "We also appreciate that he signalled his intentions early so we have been active in the market place seeking a replacement for Leeson."


    https://www.nrl.com/news/2018/07/09/leeson-ah-mau-signs-with-warriors-for-2019/
     
  9. Gareth67

    Gareth67 Bench

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    Just looking at the above photo sends shivers down my spine - to think that he will be running at the Big Red V next year .
     
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  10. Drag Queen

    Drag Queen Juniors

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  11. Drag Queen

    Drag Queen Juniors

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    He'll be missed :(
     
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  12. dragonssamy61

    dragonssamy61 First Grade

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    Yeap .
    Would have been nice if he stayed.
    But as I said week ago sometimes family comes first.
     
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  13. Gareth67

    Gareth67 Bench

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    Always Sammy , and it will be a lovely feeling for him to finally return home after all of these years away , certainly cannot blame him . The best of luck to him .:innocent:
     
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  14. dragonssamy61

    dragonssamy61 First Grade

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    Agree mate.
    He will be missed.
    Not only on the field but around the place.
     
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  15. ChargingPatJarvis

    ChargingPatJarvis Juniors

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    Has anyone else read that Dragons have signed a young prop from the Broncos?
     
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  16. hewi

    hewi Juniors

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    No, name please?
     
  17. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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  18. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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  19. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    St George Illawarra left edge set for flying finish to NRL season
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    Take off: Nene Macdonald. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Pockett.

    After making his name as a prolific right winger, Nene Macdonald made the move to the left flank ahead of the 2018 NRL season.

    It’s a transition the Dragons flyer admits hasn’t been easy, but now with eight games remaining in the season, Macdonald is ready to take off in the run to the finals.

    “We’re looking to finishing off the season really well,” Macdonald said. “We started off a little bit rusty on the left edge, but now we’ve really gelled.

    “I was playing on the right last year with Euan [Aitken], now I’m on the left with Lafs [centre Tim Lafai] and he’s been really really good for me. Me, him and Gaz [Gareth Widdop] are forming a really good combination.

    “With Goat [Joel Thompson] leaving and Tariq [Sims] coming in, we’ve formed a really good combination. Obviously Tariq was out last week and I’m so stoked for him playing NSW, getting us all back together we’re going to finish off a good year.”

    Often maligned as a boring and predictable attacking side, the Dragons put 30 points on the Melbourne Storm in Thursday night’s loss and pulled out a number of new plays in the process.

    The most impressive being Luciano Leilua’s try following an inside ball from Lafai. The move caught the Storm defenders sliding in preparation for a Matt Dufty sweep play and allowed Leilua to stroll through untouched.

    Macdonald said it’s just one of numerous moves the Dragons have been practicing on the training paddock.

    “I think that’s been a really good play we’ve been practicing at training. I reckon Tariq was at home watching and he’d be burning because that would have been his ball if he was playing, so he’s missed out on one there.

    “I think it’s a really good play for us, early ball for Tim’s going really well, it gives him time to play, he’s got a good little flick pass and he can pass on the inside as well.”

    Macdonald himself has scored nine tries this season, with numerous, including one on Thursday, seeing him spectacularly ground the ball while airborne.

    “I do practice a few at training just mucking around, but I never think it’s going to get that close during the game. This last game’s try, I’ve been copping it from everyone, ‘How’d you do it?”

    “There’s kids today screaming ‘How’d you do it?’ I just say I’ve been practicing. So they say they’ll go to training tonight and that they are going to do it. It’s a bit of instinct and just growing up practicing it and it came off, it’s a pretty good feeling.”

    While the Dragons have been maligned for their attack in recent seasons, it has been hard to fault their defence in recent years. Thursday emerged in stark contrast, with a number of defensive lapses costing the side in the final 15 minutes.

    Macdonald said the side took great confidence from Thursday’s impressive attacking display, but they know they must improve their defence against the Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

    “We take confidence coming out of that match in our attack. We knew we could score tries every time we got down there and we did every time.

    “Our defensive lapses let us down and they got through us a few times and scored a few more than us.”

    Monday also saw the announcement that St George Illawarra forward Leeson Ah Mau will leave the club at the end of the season to join the Warriors.

    https://www.illawarramercury.com.au...edge-set-for-flying-finish-to-season/?cs=3713
     
  20. getsmarty

    getsmarty Coach

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    Euan still Aitken to be a Blue
    Dragons Den News
    [​IMG]
    Euan Aitken has only become more determined to earn a Blue jumper

    HE’LL almost certainly have to bide his time, but Dragons centre Euan Aitken says missing out on a NSW jumper has only fueled the fire to earn an Origin debut.

    Aitken was a leading contender for a centre spot in Blues’ coach Brad Fittler’s new guard – his performances against Maroons skipper Greg Inglis grabbing attention – but selectors ultimately opted for Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts.

    The Blues series win ensures the pair will take some unseating, but Aitken is confident he can force his way into the Origin arena.

    “I was pretty disappointed [to miss selection], I really wanted to be a part of that side,” Aitken said.

    “It definitely does make me want it more. I know how I close I was to being in that side and I think I would’ve done a good job for them.

    “It definitely hurt a little bit but you’ve just got to keep playing footy, cop it on the chin.

    “You’ve just got to keep doing your best and, if you keep performing, hopefully your chance rolls around.”

    https://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/5511683/euan-still-aitken-to-be-a-blue/?cs=3713
     

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