13/04/2024

The Dragons prepare for the new season. (Image: St George Dragons/X)

The Dragons ended the season in 16th place with one more win than the wooden spoon Wests Tigers after a season of drama and dysfunction within the organisation.

Last year

The Dragons ended the season 16th with one more win than the wooden spoon Wests Tigers after a season of drama and dysfunction within the organisation.

A mid-season firing of Anthony Griffin after the loss to the Cowboys in round 11 started the fire before Ben Hunt, halfway through the season, declared he wanted out of the organisation.

Although Hunt says things have changed, it is more than likely he will leave at the end of the 2025 season when his contract ends.  

The majority of their wins were in small margins or controversial fashion, and their losses to top 8 sides like the Broncos, Sharks and Warriors showed why the Dragons consistently struggled.

Squad Changes

Ins: Corey Allan (Sydney Roosters), Tom Eisenhuth (Melbourne Storm), Raymond Faitala-Mariner & Kyle Flanagan (Canterbury Bulldogs), Luciano Leilua (NQ Cowboys), Jesse Marschke (North Sydney Bears NSW Cup), Hame Sele (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Christian Tuipulotu (Manly Sea Eagles)

Outs: Talatau Amone (deregistered by NRL), Billy Burns (Cronulla Sharks), Tyrell Fuimaono (unsigned), Jaiyden Hunt (Brisbane Broncos), Nick Lui-Toso (Wests Tigers, train and trial), Tautau Moga (retired), Zane Musgrove (Warrington Wolves, Super League), Jayden Sullivan (Wests Tigers), Alex Lobb (Wests Tigers)

Track Watch

Dylan Egan, a Dragons junior, impressed in the behind doors trial match against Manly Sea Eagles, playing strong minutes in the back row position.

Egan was projected to potentially be in the seventeen based on positive comments made by the Dragons coach. However, with the signing of Luciano Leilua and the trial match lineup having Tom Eisenhuth to start in the back row position, expect Egan to play in the NSW Cup and wait for his name to be called up later in the year if injuries or suspensions occur to their players.

Zac Lomax looks like he will be playing on the right wing after a year of being dropped in the NSW Cup and being shuffled to the left centre role under 2023 interim coach Ryan Carr, especially being an excellent right-hand carry and left-hand fend as the right edge centre.

In December of 2023, Lomax recorded the best 1.2-kilometre time trial, his fitness and conditioning can be up there potentially if he were to shift to fullback if the wing experiment isn’t up to Flanagan’s expectation and depending on Tyrell Sloan’s performance at fullback.

The forward pack has its core of Blake Lawrie and Jack de Belin in their best spots at the front row and lock, respectively.

The back row depth was able to get beefed up just in time before their season opener, which opened up their attacking strategy and bench rotations.

Their half-depth will be a nightmare with an injury or suspension to Kyle Flanagan or Ben Hunt, which could put the club in more chaos and pain than they are in currently.

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What to Expect

It is going to be a challenge for new coach Shane Flanagan, as the wooden spoon race is going to be tight.

In the Dragons’ history, they have never finished last, and the Dragons want to make sure they are nowhere near the bottom end of the table.

There have been somewhat quality signings in Hame Sele who could contribute in the middle forward pack for the Dragons.

Outside of that, there are question marks on their recruits, and they even had drama with Ronald Volkman, who was promoted on their social media training.

Reports have suggested the contract wasn’t officially signed and passed through the processes, and he got injured at his short time in the red and white.

Shane Flanagan has also expressed that there is a long-term focus, in which fans should focus on 2025 and 2026.

This will be the season where Flanagan’s fingerprints are all over the club and leave his mark on the team as they prepare for the upcoming years for the club.

It’s a big year for:

With Shane Flanagan’s decision to move Zac Lomax to the wing, the Dragons will need a big year out of what was one of the centres last season.

Contacted until the end of the 2026 season, Lomax has a chance to improve in this new position and make it his in this new system.

With questionable tendencies with the flick pass game he would like to create a lot as the right edge centre, the Dragons may have made this decision on the eye test.

This decision makes way for Flanagan’s right-hand man Jack Bird, who has played his best under the premiership-winning coach in the centre position, although that was over half a decade ago when the Sharks won the premiership in 2016.

Biggest unanswered question?

Are the Dragons interested in the long-term future of the club?

With questionable decisions and chaos year in and year out for the Dragons, it is a wonder what the plans are like, especially with the uncertainty of Ben Hunt’s stay at the club.

Expressing his desire to return to Brisbane last season, it wouldn’t be shocking if we see the Queenslander return to the first club he played for to finish his career, especially at the current high-quality level he is playing. 

The Rabbitohs signed Jack Wighton on a deal to hopefully win a premiership in the Latrell Mitchell era of the club. With Ben Hunt having the halfback and dummy half versatility, there would be a lot of clubs that would love the state of origin and international representative playmaker to help contenders move the needle to win a premiership, as that is something he wants to do before he retires. 

Coach Index

Shane Flanagan – Safe

Only being signed last year to start this season, it is hard to say his job on the line. Helping convince Ben Hunt to stay for now, this journey with the veteran coach will take time. 

Let us not forget also when he took over the Cronulla Sharks and was able to get them to win a premiership within a couple of seasons with a lot of quality veteran players and beat Melbourne Storm in a close contest.

Predicted Round 1 Lineup

  1. Tyrell Sloan
  2. Zac Lomax
  3. Moses Suli
  4. Jack Bird
  5. Mikaele Ravalawa
  6. Kyle Flanagan 
  7. Ben Hunt
  8. Francis Molo
  9. Jacob Liddle
  10. Blake Lawrie
  11. Luciano Leilua
  12. Jaydn Su’A
  13. Jack de Belin
  14. Jesse Marschke
  15. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
  16. Hame Sele
  17. Tom Eisenhuth

Ladder Prediction

Expect the Dragons to be a bottom half of the ladder team, anywhere between 13-17th, as teams like the Tigers and Bulldogs have improved their roster and look much more promising in the long term than the Dragons. 

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