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Rugby League Saints - 2018 - UPDATE

Discussion in 'St George-Illawarra Dragons' started by S J, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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    2017 Under-20s Player of the Year Jackson Ford has signed a three-year contract with the Dragons.

    Ford will become a full-time development player for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and has been training with the first grade squad since the start of the pre-season.

    The Gerringong Lions junior has also been guaranteed a place in the Dragons' Top 30 for the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership season.

    Ford's signing means the Dragons have fulfilled the minimum quota allocated for development players ahead of the 2018 season.

    Dragons Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward was excited by the 19-year-old back-rower's potential.

    "Jackson is a real project for us. He was selected in our Under-20s this season and while he is raw, he developed extremely well throughout the year," Millward said.

    "The plan is to prepare him for the 2020 season; we'll get him bigger and stronger and hopefully more skilful. Jackson has a great attitude and his work rate is absolutely phenomenal."

    Millward added that the Dragons will be cautious in regards to the remaining development player spots within the squad, with Ford joining fellow Under-20s players Tristan Sailor and Steven Marsters in the full-time squad.

    "Obviously everyone knows that in the NRL you have to have your Top 30 but then you're allowed a minimum of three development players and maximum of six who will be full-time within the top squad," Millward said.

    "We do a lot of work on succession plans at the club and our three current development players are really good investments for our club moving forward.

    "In saying that, we have to be very careful not to lock in the maximum amount of development players for the next two years because that could block a potential pathway for others."
     
  2. ALX22

    ALX22 Well-Known Member

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    Lovodua and Willis unlucky to miss out so far.
     
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  3. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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    THREE years is a long time in rugby league, but new Dragons bookend Mitch Allgood is confident he still has plenty to offer in the NRL.

    The former Parramatta enforcer played 70 games for the Eels after debuting in 2011, before taking up a three-year deal with Super League club Hull Kingston Rovers.

    He turned out for Wakefield Trinity this year following Hull’s relegation before the Dragons threw him an NRL lifeline via one-year deal.

    Still only 28, Allgood said he always planned to return to Australia to see to some unfinished business.

    Allgood joins fellow recruits James Graham and Jeremy Latimore at the club, as coach Paul McGregor looks to bolster his middle stocks following the departure of Russell Packer.

    It will put spots up front at a premium but Allgood said he’s embracing the challenge of forcing his way into the 17.
     
  4. Bazza

    Bazza Well-Known Member

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  5. stanleyg

    stanleyg Well-Known Member

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    You got your xmas present too Bazza. Just not sure if it is a good present......or a lump of coal.........Da Playne is on his way grinch2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
  6. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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  7. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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    St George Illawarra are the biggest losers in the Manly salary cap scandal, missing out on a finals spot and the estimated $500,000 windfall that comes with it after the Sea Eagles were pinged after the season was completed.

    The Dragons finished the regular season in ninth spot, but could have snuck into the top eight had sixth-placed Manly been sanctioned earlier. Fairfax Media revealed five months ago that the Silvertails were under scrutiny after Strike Force Nuralda, the taskforce assembled by NSW police to investigate match-fixing, found evidence of player payments in contravention of NRL rules.

    Historically, the NRL hasn't compensated teams affected by clubs breaching the salary cap. When Melbourne was stripped of their 2009 premiership for systemically cheating the system, losing grand-finalists Parramatta weren't crowned premiers. When the Eels were caught over the limit last year, they were docked 12 competition points and fined $750,000, as well as being stripped of their Nines trophy.
     
  8. stanleyg

    stanleyg Well-Known Member

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    Nice to see the NRL working so diligently so you have to hope that any fine is at least equal to the bonus they got for their efforts in 2017.
    The Dragons were not really disadvantaged by the Seagles. The bottom line is the Dragons were just not good enough and didn't deserve to be in the 8 anyway unfortunately
     
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  9. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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    2018 Arrivals
    Mitchell Allgood (Wakefield Trinity, 2018), Jackson Ford (2020), James Graham (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2020), Ben Hunt (Brisbane Broncos, 2023), Jeremy Latimore (Cronulla Sharks, 2018), Darren Nicholls (Penrith Panthers, 2019)

    Players Re-signed
    Euan Aitken (2020), Jack de Belin (2020), Jacob Host (2020), Tim Lafai (2020), Blake Lawrie (2019), Kurt Mann (2019), Jason Nightingale (2018), Tristan Sailor (2019), Paul Vaughan (2021), Gareth Widdop (2021)

    2018 Departures
    Josh Dugan (Cronulla Sharks), Drew Hutchison (Leigh Centurions), Chris Lewis (released), Mose Masoe (Hull Kingston Rovers), Will Matthews (Widnes Vikings), Tyrone McCarthy (Salford Red Devils), Josh McCrone (Toronto Wolfpack), Taane Milne (Wests Tigers), Shaun Nona (released), Russell Packer (Wests Tigers)

    2018 Off contract
    Leeson Ah Mau, Mitchell Allgood, Matt Dufty, Reuben Garrick, Patrick Herbert, Josh Kerr, Jeremy Latimore, Luciano Leilua, Cameron McInnes, Jason Nightingale, Jordan Pereira, Hame Sele, Joel Thompson
     
  10. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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    Paul McGregor sat down with Ben Hunt at a Wollongong restaurant in January to tell him why he needed him.

    To tell him why the St George Illawarra Dragons needed him. It’s the same reason the club regularly checked in on Hunt throughout his final year at the Brisbane Broncos. The reason why the Dragons coach flew to Brisbane at the end of the season for lunch with the man most believe holds the key to the future of the organisation.

    “He [McGregor] spoke about his time at the Dragons and said that throughout his time at the club, the only thing he felt like they never had was a true halfback,” Hunt told NRL.com.

    “He said he was looking for a halfback that was just a halfback, not a five-eighth. He wanted someone that could steer the boys around the park. He said he wanted someone that would let Gareth [Widdop] play his footy.”

    The Dragons have had plenty of quality pivots at the club since the joint venture’s formation in 1999. Trent Barrett, Anthony Mundine, Jamie Soward.

    But they’ve never possessed a top-line halfback. Even when they won the premiership in 2010 under the tutelage of Wayne Bennett, they did so with a makeshift No.7 in Ben Hornby.

    It’s why they paid big bucks to lure Hunt south on a five-year deal worth in excess of $1 million per season.

    It was a deal that changed the NRL landscape. Hunt didn’t know it at the time, but the huge contract would become the barometer for all off contract and disgruntled NRL players in what would be the biggest year of player movement in recent memory.

    “I heard a bit of chatter about what I was on and people saying ‘he’s getting this much, so I should get this much’,” Hunt said.

    “Hearing that stuff, it did make me feel a bit funny to hear people referencing me about what they should be getting. They should be talking about Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk and those blokes.

    “I think the way the game is going the salary cap keeps creeping up and the prices for quality players are going to keep creeping up as well. Whatever a club is willing to pay someone for their position, you get what you can.”

    The 27-year-old, who will move to the Sutherland Shire to start the new chapter of his career, is not feeling any greater expectation than what he has already experienced during his career.

    “I don’t think there can be any more pressure on a half in the comp than in Brisbane,” Hunt said.

    “Pressure doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m pretty good with it.”

    There was a time Hunt was nothing more than a bits and pieces player. A stop-gap solution. He played more than 60 games off the bench before he finally was given a genuine opportunity to make the permanent move into Brisbane’s halves.

    Hunt credits Anthony Griffin for having a significant impact on his career as he was the coach who first showed the faith in him to become a regular No.7.

    “It sunk into my head that this might be it forever,” Hunt said.

    “That all I could be was the bloke who filled the utility role off the bench. But at the end of 2013 Anthony Griffin gave me a chance to play in the halves.

    “That off-season he told me I would be the No.7. That gave me the confidence that I finally felt comfortable in first grade. That I belonged.”

    The criticism for the Dragons under McGregor’s watch has been their inability to attack with the same level of potency as the top sides.

    They went some way to changing that in 2017, but they were unable to capitalise on a strong start to the season and missed the finals.

    “I’ve seen it at the Broncos where we go through patches where we struggle to attack as well,” Hunt said.

    “You get in and train really hard with a decent squad, you’ll be able to get your attack going. Look at what Gareth did this year – he was winning games by himself down there.

    ‘’If we can get a good combination going and start working with Cameron McInnes – I think he’s a good little hooker, I think we’ll get the attack firing for sure.

    “I want to go down there and bring something to the Dragons that they need. I want to come down and be the halfback they wanted.”

    The Dragons have played finals football once since Wayne Bennett left at the end of 2011.

    Even then, they scraped into the playoffs in eighth position and were bundled out in week one. Failure won’t be tolerated in 2018, especially after blew a golden opportunity last season with a final-round loss to Canterbury Bulldogs.

    But as McGregor mentioned to Hunt back in January, there’s always been one key ingredient missing.

    “If I can bring what I know I can bring, and looking at the team we’ve got, I think we can finish in the top four,” Hunt said.
     
  11. stanleyg

    stanleyg Well-Known Member

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    we will have to wait until 2018 to see how the halves go. Both Widdop and Hunt are playmakers so hopefully they gel as a good unit and not pulling in different directions like the Marshall/Widdop pairing
     
  12. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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    Freshly re-signed hooker Cameron McInnes has established himself as one of the Telstra Premiership's best defenders but is now aiming to bring a revamped attacking game to the St George Illawarra Dragons.

    McInnes's 1155 tackles last season was easily an NRL-best – well clear of runner-up Jake Friend's 989 – while his stunning effective tackle rate of 95.1 per cent was bettered only by incoming teammate James Graham (95.6 per cent).

    Because he feels he has adapted to such a huge defensive workload, McInnes told NRL.com his main focus now was to add some more spark out of dummy-half.

    "It was a higher work rate than I've ever done before so it's only going to make me better for next year as well," McInnes said.
     
  13. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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  14. stanleyg

    stanleyg Well-Known Member

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    what the nose ring ???
     
  15. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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    Good to see we've kicked out all the "bums" ...

    Saints will head into the 2018 NRL season with what Paul McGregor rates “the best squad I have coached”.

    Boosted by the recruitment of Ben Hunt and James Graham, McGregor is confident the Dragons have finally emerged from a painstaking rebuild that pretty much dates back to Wayne Bennett’s departure at the end of 2011.

    “My fingerprints are over the roster,” McGregor told The Saturday Telegraph, heading into his fourth pre-season in charge since taking over from Steve Price midway through 2014.

    “It takes a while to get the roster you want.

    “And it has been a journey.

    “But I feel it is the best squad I have coached.

    “I won’t say (best) team because it is always down to your squad, your depth and your 30 players.

    “But I certainly feel that the depth within the squad is at its best in 2018. And to be fortunate enough to pick up two internationals that are still at the top of their game is a real blessing.”
     
  16. stanleyg

    stanleyg Well-Known Member

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    That's the confidence I like to see from a coach.
    Lets see if Mary can translate that to an in your face defence along with a draw and then pass/offload attack rather than bash n barge die with the ball style.
     
  17. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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    The decision on who wears the St George Illawarra No.1 jersey next year will be the most important of Paul McGregor’s coaching career.

    McGregor has two years to run on his contract, but the disastrous end to the 2017 campaign has added a sense of urgency for success next season.

    And he really does have all the necessary tools at his disposal, after throwing the chequebook at Ben Hunt to partner Gareth Widdop.

    Cameron McInnes has succeeded where Mitch Rein, among others, at times struggled in meeting the demands of being an 80-minute player.

    McInnes was the league’s top tackler this year and appears ready to join the truly elite category, declaring to NRL.com this week he has eyes on the NSW No.9 jumper next May.

    But it is the Dragons fullback position which holds the key to success.

    Widdop did a fantastic job at the back for England, but there’s a three-way race emerging between the young talent of Matt Dufty, Jai Field and Zac Lomax.

    Dufty, who like Field has bulked up significantly in the off-season, deserves first shot at it, given he forced Josh Dugan's switch to the centres mid-year.

    With Dugan now set to line-up against the Dragons for arch-rivals Cronulla, Dufty can repay the faith McGregor and recruitment man Ian Millward have in him. But Field and Lomax have bright futures, though in Shellharbour junior Field’s case, they’ll need to determine his best position.

    He’s already second in the ‘utility’ pecking order behind Kurt Mann, who has floated across the backline with varying degrees of success.

    It’s a vastly different pre-season build-up for all NRL clubs, given the successful World Cup filling the post-grand final void.

    The shortened off-season also comes with the lure of playing English Super League club Hull in February, who will already by into their official campaign.

    Hull play Wigan for Super League competition points in Wollongong on February, so they’ll be conditioned when they meet the Dragons the following week.

    If the Dragons fullback is one of their best players next year, Top 4 can become a reality.
     
  18. stanleyg

    stanleyg Well-Known Member

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    Like our ongoing halves issues.
    We find a either a good FB or half and they are either great for a few games then go off the boil or get injured with their form never really coming back to it earlier spark.
    Mary has the opportunity to turn all that around in 2018
     
  19. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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    Round 1:

    1 Matthew Dufty (Zac Lomax)
    2 Nene Macdonald
    3 Euan Aitken
    4 Tim Lafai
    5 Jason Nightingale
    6 Gareth Widdop
    7 Ben Hunt

    8 Paul Vaughan
    9 Cameron McInnes
    10 James Graham
    11 Tyson Frizell
    12 Jacob Host
    13 Jack de Belin

    THE INTERCHANGE
    14 Tariq Sims
    15 Leeson Ah Mau
    16 Jeremy Latimore / Luciano Leilua
    17 Jai Field / Kurt Mann

    Hame Sele
    Blake Lawrie
    Josh Kerr
    Reece Robson
    Mitchell Allgood
    Jackson Ford

    Tristan Sailor
    Patrick Herbert
    Reuben Garrick
    Steven Marsters
    Jordan Pereira
    Darren Nichols
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
  20. S J

    S J Mod Squad Staff Member

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    Comment on Thompson move: he can easily be replaced in the form of hulking man mountain Luciano Leilua, who has recently re-signed for a further two seasons, which was perhaps the catalyst for Thompson’s departure. As a Dragons fan I’d be much more upset if we let Leilua slip through our fingers but managed to keep Thompson, who, at 29, is yet to play either Origin or test football.

    Leilua showed glimpses of his raw potential at the back end of 2016, and in just five games he showed more attacking prowess than most of the forwards who had been mainstays in the team all season. I was surprised when he failed to add to his NRL appearances during 2017 despite starring for Illawarra in the ISP and going on to take home the club’s player of the year award.

    I guess with a talent as prodigious as Leilua you don’t want to rush him into regular NRL duty before his time, but 2018 will see a big year for the young man.

    Back to Thompson, and we all know he’s aggressive in both attack and defence and is a reliable performer, but outside of that he doesn’t really offer a whole lot more, so I’m not too worried about the loss – although Manly get a seasoned campaigner who will likely start each and every week.

    The thing with guys like Thompson is they are fairly predictable each week, whereas someone like Leilua has size, footwork, a deft offload and will attract several defenders to the tackle, something the Dragons have lacked.

    When was the last time Saints boasted someone like Leilua? Mose Masoe was brought to the club but injuries cruelled any chance he had have making the grade. Going further back, our standout forwards have been the likes of Ben Creagh, Jason Ryles, Luke Bailey, Thompson, Dean Young and Shaun Timmins – all great performers, but not explosive.

    Thompson is a great player no doubt, and his tireless efforts off the field helping troubled youths shouldn’t be ignored, but in terms of his impact on the field, the Dragons are well placed to cover him. Leilua aside, they boast the likes of Jacob Host and Hame Sele, who are coming along nicely, while TJ Euele has plenty of size about him and is an exciting young player to watch.

    The 2018 season shapes as a big year for the club with an exciting roster. Failure to play finals will surely bring the curtain down on Paul McGregor’s term as coach, but in Leilua they may just have the player to save Mary and return the club to better times.
     

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