Following two difficult seasons, St George Illawarra will be looking to improve upon their 12th placed finish in 2020, with a difficult draw and their captain out for the season a finals appearance will be hard fought for.
What to expect
The Dragons’ 2021 season suffered a significant setback before the season even began with co-captain Cameron McInnes going down with a season-ending ACL injury in early February.
Luckily the arrival of Andrew McCullough from the Knights was just days away, with McCullough bringing 271 games experience to the side.
The side will likely have a teething period early in the season with the coaching and leadership group having undergone a complete revamp.
This is a move that could help shake the demons of the past two seasons from the team’s memories.
Should they come away from the early rounds relatively unscathed the Dragons are looking at one of the most challenging draws of the league in 2021.
The final six rounds of the home and away season will be one of the most difficult periods for the Dragons, who will face a team that made the finals in five of the six matches.
There will be no more important time for St George Illawarra in 2021 than the end of the home and away season.
By then it will be expected that the club has settled following the shake-ups prior to the season commencing and excuses of players yet to feel comfortable in their roles will be redundant.
In 2020, St George Illawarra was unable to beat any of the teams they face in the final six rounds, suffering a particularly demoralising defeat to the Canberra Raiders in round 18.
However, it’s the two matches against South Sydney in rounds 20 and 25 that will define the run home for St George Illawarra. A win in the round 20 clash would push the Dragons with a positive outlook towards the second match just a month later.
Following the first two matches against the Rabbitohs and the Raiders, there will be no chance to take the foot off the gas, when they take on last year’s minor premiers, Penrith Panthers.
Regardless of the result, the Dragons will have nine days to recover and reset before they take on the Sydney Roosters.
Their round 24 opponent, the North Queensland Cowboys will be the Dragon’s only opponent in the last six weeks that finished outside the top eight.
The Dragons will welcome the home game against the Cowboys during the high pressure period for the club.
If the Dragons perform well early in the season and are in the hunt for a finals berth, there will be several tough opponents to defeat, and if not win manage scorelines that will not destroy any chance of finals contention due to a negative points difference.
|Ben Hunt (C)
|Jack De Belin
|Cameron McInnes (C)