2011 Season Preview - St George Illawarra Dragons

2010 was a dream year for Dragons fans, they secured a second minor premiership, went undefeated in the final series with the ultimate prize of the premiership and to top it off, became World Club Champions. All these prizes will only be good viewing in the leagues club, once the Dragons start their 2011 campaign against the Gold Coast on their own turf.

There will be a target on their back though, as St George Illawarra run out for their opening contest against Gold Coast and indeed every match this year, with everyone wanting to knock off the top dog in the NRL. This is further pronounced with no club being able to go back to back with premierships, since Brisbane completed the feat in 1992-1993 under the leadership of Wayne Bennett.

If any legal team could do it, St George Illawarra would be the ones, a side featuring a backline of international stars, with all but one representing either their country or state. Also, prodigal son Mark Gasnier will be out to prove he belongs this season after only playing the back half of 2010.

The Dragons forward pack, which has been a major cog in the Dragon's machine, has been singled out as a weakness which may haunt them due to the loss of Jeremy Smith and Neville Costigan. But with the return from injury of Dan Hunt and several youngsters including Jack Bosden hungry to impress, this will keep St George Illawarra in good stead for 2011.

They will certainly be there at the pointy end, with perhaps Ben Hornby again lifting the premiership trophy for the true believers.

Player to Watch

Dan Hunt went a large way last year to prove that the Dragons didn't need Justin Poore but his season was tragically cut short, due to a freak Achilles injury in a pre-match warm-up before they clashed with Canberra in round 12. Hunt will slip right back into his role, filling the hole left by Neville Costigan and even looking to push his claims for New South Wales selection.

Rookie to Watch

Before his injury this section would have been dedicated to Cameron King, but sadly since his pectoral tear in the World Club Challenge, it will focus the spotlight on Jack Bosden. He has shown in his two trial appearances that he could have a breakout year in the NRL, after signing with the Dragons last year from the Sharks junior base - and they have been kicking themselves ever since for letting him go.


Acquired: Mark Gasnier - 2014 [French Rugby - Stade Francais], Daniel Penese - ? [Panthers], Adam Cuthertson - 2011 [Sharks]

Released: Jarrod Saffy [Super 15 - Melbourne Rebels], Beau Henry [Knights], Neville Costigan [Knights], Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa [Cowboys], Jeremy Smith [Sharks], Ricky Thorby [Cowboys], Luke Priddis [Retired], Michael Lett [Bulldogs]

Re-signed: Trent Merrin [2012], Michael Weyman [2013], Matt Prior [2013], Jamie Soward [2013], Michael Greenfield [2011], Jon Green [2011], Ben Hornby [2013], Cameron King [2013]

Predicted Round 1 line-up:

1. Dairus Boyd 2. Brett Morris 3. Mark Gasnier 4. Matt Cooper 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Jamie Soward 7. Ben Hornby 8. Dan Hunt 9. Dean Young 10. Michael Weyman 11. Beau Scott 12. Ben Creagh 13. Matt Prior Interchange: 14. Nathan Fien 15. Trent Merrin 16. Jon Green 17. Michael Greenfield

R1 - Titan (A)
R2 - Sharks (A)
R3 - Warriors (A)
R4 - Knights (A)
R5 - Bulldogs (H)
R6 - Rabbitohs (A)
R7 - Roosters (A)
R8 - Eels (H)
R9 - Cowboys (H)
R10 - Bulldogs (A)
R11 - BYE
R12 - Tigers (H)
R13 - Eels (A)
R14 - Titans (H)
R15 - Broncos (A)
R16 - Sea Eagles (H)
R17 - Knights (H)
R18 - BYE
R19 - Sharks (H)
R20 - Raiders (A)
R21 - Rabbitohs (H)
R22 - Tigers (A)
R23 - Roosters (H)
R24 - Storm (A)
R25 - Warriors (H)
R26 - Panthers (H)