SGI NSW Cup
I think Webster or Egan will spend another year in the lower grades and Johnson will get a chance.6 spots available. Would be nice if Kerr moved on. Get a deal in the ESL for a few years. He's not tough enough for the NRL.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Top 30 spots to fill: 4
Available development contracts: 2
RYAN COUCHMAN and TOBY COUCHMAN (both second row)The local juniors — and identical twins — have been given their first NRL pre-season opportunity after featuring for the Illawarra Steelers in SG Ball this year. The pair prefer the second row but spent some time last season at prop too. The brothers share a bit of friendly competition but Ryan got the jump last year when he was named in the Australian Schoolboys merit team. Toby responded by earning selection for NSW in the Under 19s Origin this year playing two NSW Cup games.
DYLAN EGAN (second row/centre)The Gerringong Lions junior captained Kiama High to a grand final win in the NSW State Combined High Schools competition in September and was named player of the tournament. Like the Couchman brothers, Dylan Egan gets his opportunity after featuring for the Illawarra Steelers in SG Ball earlier this year and his speed has impressed.
I definitely hope these 3 are in the 6.
HAELE FINAU (hooker)Victorian-born Haele Finau joins the Dragons from the Storm system after spending the last two seasons playing for Queensland Cup feeder side Brisbane Tigers. The 22-year-old has impressed early and is said to be a good chance of landing a Top 30 deal. His younger brother, Sione — a winger — has also joined the club on a one-year development deal.
Probably not though Sam Hooper is an interesting omission from this group.
ZACH HERRING (halves)The five-eighth has progressed through the Dragons’ lower grades and spent majority of 2022 in Jersey Flegg but get seven games in NSW Cup. He had a standout game in Round 19, setting up three tries, running for 112 metres, getting five tackle busts and making 22 tackles. A Wollongong product, Herring is most at home in the halves but can also cover hooker if need be.
Club is awash in halves and hookers at present. Not sure if he's still eligible for Flegg but will probably have to spend another year in Flegg and/or NSW Cup.
AARON JOHNSON (prop)The 21-year-old spent most of the season in Jersey Flegg but was rewarded with a NSW Cup debut in the final round — and celebrated with a try. Johnson has impressed veteran prop Aaron Woods, who believes he’s physically ready to take on the big boys.
He's already a big boy. Reminds me of that huge guy, whose name I forget, who went to Penrith but is now looking at CRL. Was really good in the lower grades because he was just so big but in the open age group where others are just as big or bigger than him, he couldn't make it.
ALEX LOBB (winger)The 20-year-old goalkicking outside back has progressed through the Dragons’ system featuring in the club’s SG Ball, Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup sides. He played 10 games on the wing in Cup last season, scoring in four consecutive games. Away from the field Lobb is studying a Bachelor of Exercise Science.
I hope he's one. Really need some speed on the wing.
DAN RUSSELL (second row/centre)At 27-years old Dan Russell is a bit of a late-bloomer but has a lot to offer. He arrives to the Dragons with 85 games worth of Queensland Cup experience and has previously spent time in the Cowboys’ top squad. Russell is a Papua New Guinea international, featuring in both the mid-season Test and the World Cup — and it was PNG’s coaching director Shane Flanagan who helped him land the train-and-trial back in June.
We have enough QLD Cup journeymen. Coach Griffin loves them!
TREIGH STEWART (fullback)The Batemans Bay product caught the eye of the Dragons back in 2018 when he was named Player of the Year for the Laurie Daley Cup. He’s been in the Red V system ever since and was a part of the 2019 SG Ball premiership-winning team alongside Tyrell Sloan, Jayden Sullivan and Talatau Amone. The 21-year-old is a speedy fullback that has also played on the wing. One to keep an eye on.
I was really impressed by him! Now Ramsey is out for at least the first few weeks of the season, I think he's a big chance. Specially if he can pack on a few kgs in the off season and be a good winger even though his best position is obviously fullback.
JACOB WEBSTER (prop)The local junior featured in SG Ball, Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup this year — and earnt a call-up for NSW’s under 19s Origin team.
Another who I hope makes the cut!
So if it were me, I'd select the Couchmans, Dylan Egan, Alexander Lobb, Treigh Stewart and Jacob Webster.