St George Illawarra Dragons - 2012 Preview

Wayne Bennett has moved on and Steve Price has begun his reign in the top job at St George Illawarra, trying to follow the coach who brought St George Illawarra their first premiership in 31 years.

Price has stamped his mark on the Dragons from the start, signing a raft of players to help bolster the depth of the Dragons. This is to ensure the slide the Dragons encountered during the origin period in 2011 isn't repeated.

Unlike when Bennett arrived and brought Darius Boyd with him from the Broncos, Steve Price hasn't punctuated his arrival with a big signing, with the biggest signing he made bringing Daniel Vidot over from Canberra with stability the overall theme for 2012.

The bulk of the 2010 premiership squad has been re-signed over the last two years meaning the Dragons will be well placed for a tilt at the premiership but 2012 will mainly be a rebuilding year for the Dragons.

St George Illawarra head into round one and an emotionally charged blockbuster clash with former coach, Wayne Bennett and fullback Darius Boyd who are now employed by the Knights. Currently the only injury concerns are Dan Hunt (TBC) and Atelea Vea (TBC).

Why they can win it
Well the Dragons have retained the majority of their premiership winning squad, so if they click like 2010 or the opening rounds of 2011 watch out, because the Dragons will be there comes finals time.

Why they will struggle
The Dragons prided themselves on their defense under Bennett and Price has said he won't be changing that. So unless they open up the attack, the Dragons may be left behind if defences can match their safe, no mistakes style.

Player to Watch
Jack De Belin - made his debut for the Dragons round 16 win over eventual premiers Manly and made two additional appearances in 2011. De Belin's blonde locks and hard running style has endeared him to Dragons supporters already and expect him to feature more prominently in 2012, most likely from the bench where he could be used for impact once defenses are tiring.

Rookie to Watch
Evander Cummins - this player comes with massive wraps having represented Australia and NSW in the under 18s age level. He's been rated one of the best attacking prospects at the Dragons in recent times and has pace to burn plus can cover most positions in the backline.

Gains: Chase Stanley, Will Matthews, Jeremy Latimore, Leeson Ah Mau, Daniel Vidot, Josh Miller, Atelea Vea and Denan Kemp.
Losses: Darius Boyd, Adam Cuthbertson, Alex McKinnon (Newcastle Knights), Jack Bosden, Peni Tagive (Sydney Roosters), Jon Green (Cronulla Sharks) and Mark Gasnier (Retirement)

Best Line up for 2012
1. Kyle Stanley 2. Brett Morris  3. Chase Stanley  4. Matt Cooper  5. Jason Nightingale 6. Jamie Soward 7. Ben Hornby 8. Dan Hunt 9. Mitch Rein 10. Michael Weyman 11. Beau Scott 12. Ben Creagh 13. Dean Young
Interchange: 14. Nathan Fien 15. Trent Merrin 16. Jack De Belin 17. Matt Prior