Season Preview 2016 – St George-Illawarra Dragons

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St. George Illawarra DragonsThe Dragons look to field a strong squad for 2017 (albeit with a few Swiss cheese like holes). It’s easy to forget that they made the top 8 in 2015, only going down to the Bulldogs in extra time. They were at the top of the competition after round 12 for god sake. Their defence at the start of the season was so solid, they would have likely got Steven Avery off the murder of Teresa Hallbach. Then for some reason the wheels fell off.

There’s no reason to think that Paul McGregor can’t motivate his team again (for a 8 week run at least) and some astute purchases should in part help. Sure they lost some big name players (Eto Nabuli, Heath L’Estrange) as well as a few plodders (Trent Merrin) but they have signed quite a few quality replacements. In the forwards they have attempted to recruit some starch in the form of Mose Masoe (who is already out for the season *sad face*) and Russell Packer (convicted felon, known public urinator). Sebastian Ikahihifo, Dynamis Lui and British import Tyrone McCarthy also join a forward pack that already includes the underated Mike Cooper, Tyson “Joseph” Frizell and Jack De Bellin. Ben Creagh can go one further than Kurt Gidley and captain the team from NSW Cup.

There’s a bit of a backline conundrum, which seems to revolve around what position Josh Dugan wants to play that week. He’s played fullback most of his career with great competence but will also put his hand up to play centres if he thinks this is his best plan of playing Origin/getting drafted to the NFL/if he wants to feel in control of the coach. The other spots will sort themselves out depending on what Josh writes on the team sheet that week, with new recruit Tim Lafai assured a spot. Apparently Kurt Mann is in line to get a position, but I’m just trying to figure out the difference between him and former Storm team mate Ben Hampton.

How the spine will perform in 2016 has more question marks than a Riddler onesie. Gareth Widdop will do his thing and the fullback will be competent (ask Josh who). Hooker Mitch Rein is a difficult player to gauge. Is he good? Is he shite? Does his man-bun get him any action with the ladies? I’ve heard his name tossed up in the Origin frame but I think that is more an indictment on the Blues hooker depth rather than an endorsement of Mitch. Benji Marshall is still a thing in 2016 and I’m also not sure if that’s going to be a good or bad thing. Probably a little from column A, a little from column B. And herein lies the genius of Mary McGregor. He has recruited perhaps the best player to ever have conducted an interview with his mouthguard still in, Josh McCrone. McCrone has been brought in to put pressure on both Benji and Mitch Rein. They will most likely thrive knowing their jobs are secure.

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