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Since the June 30 anti-tampering deadline passed, the St George Illawarra Dragons have secured just one new signature for 2003, that of Sharks lower grade halfback, Brett Firman. Conversely, the Dragons have seen a steady stream of players departing.
Most recently, utility player Jason Hooper (pictured) has confirmed that he will be playing with St Helens in 2003 following the announcement that he is set to sign a three year deal with the UK club. Hooper has been a regular first grader for two years and at lock forward has been the team's top tackler this year.
Hooper's name was mentioned at last month's 'Red V' meeting as one player the Dragons would not be retaining.
Since receiving joint venture salary cap concessions in 1999, the Dragons have been shedding playing personnel. In order to retain key players and still remain under the cap, Saints have let a number of promising players go to other clubs.
Without a doubt, the most controversial loss was that of Nathan Blacklock who was released from his contract in June after he exclaimed, "I no longer have the passion for the game".
Summary: Signings: Brett Firman (Sharks). Retained: Luke Bailey, Damien Bower, Dean Byrne, Ian Donnelly, Ben Hornby, Brent Kite, Shane Laloata, Craig Stapleton, Nathan Tutt. Players moving on: Nathan Blacklock (Rugby Union), Jason Hooper (St Helens), Clint Hill (Wests Tigers), Willie Peters (Souths), Ben Ross (Penrith), Justin Smith (Souths).
More confirmations as they come to hand.