25 rounds, 192 games, #Origin on a Sunday, and a September Grand Final.
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St George Illawarra, the mighty club who seem to firmly have a grasp of the NRL perennial underachiever tag have gone from the Penthouse to the Outhouse.
In 2004 the Dragons had halfback headaches of a good nature with class halves Brett Firman and Matthew Head battling it out for the NRL top spot. But now the Dragons have a different kind of halfback headache. With Brett Firman signing with the Roosters at the end of last season and Lachlan Russell being released, the Dragons only have one specialist Number Seven in their predicted top 25. And there is no certainty that Head, their first choice half will even start the season.
With Head being hospitalised after being diagnosed with pneumonia and an inflamed liver in October, he is said to be only a sixty percent chance of making it back in time for the first round against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and as yet has not started training for next season.
This leaves major headaches for coach Nathan Brown as he will struggle to find a quality replacement for Head, so the Dragons can kick off season 2005 with a win against the defending premiers.
With the main objective of the Dragons this year being "winning, and winning often" a key is to have a quality combination in the halves, and with world class captain Trent Barrett playing at five eighth, the Dragons will need a regular and reliable halfback to complement him week in week out, which is no certainty at the present time.
Only time will tell for the boys in the Red V, and maybe in 2005 they will finally morph from premiership pretenders to premiership contenders.