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St George Illawarra Dragons Head Coach Steve Price remains positive about improvements in his playing squad despite the 38-20 Charity Shield defeat against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Saturday.

Price believes his team were too slow to start and feels they were let down in defence throughout the whole game.

The third year coach is focused on developing the Red V’s ruck defence before the first round of the 2014 season when they take on the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park on Sunday, March 9.

Despite the loss, Price was impressed with several players’ performances including young gun Adam Quinlan who took over from fullback Josh Dugan in the final 20 minutes when he was struck down with injury.

“Josh Dugan will go for scans on Monday, it’s too early to say what is wrong and we won’t have an update on that injury until he’s had the proper scans,” said Price.

“It’s always disappointing to see high profile football players go down especially when it was ‘G.I’, but that’s the game we play and just the way it is.

“At the beginning of the game they were a lot more physical than us and we just couldn’t control that ruck.

“I thought we got better as we started to warm up into the game but we need to do that from the outset.

“We fell into a false sense of security in the beginning when we had a number of sets and we panicked a little and took a few more hitups than we should have.

“Trials are to get it right and we have two weeks to get it right for the Tigers in Round 1.

“There were a few positive signs in this game, but in saying that we get confidence through our defence and we have a lot of work to do in that area.

“A couple of those tries were good, Leeson Ah Mau out on that right edge was really strong and when we got a few points we looked quite threatening at times but we need to get there a bit earlier.

“I’ll sit down with the coaching staff to select players, but we have two weeks to get that right and all the players had a go at it tonight.

“It’s far too early to say whether Josh Dugan will be ready to play in Round 1 or not, we can’t make a call on that until we get the scans.

“I thought when Adam Quinlan went out on the field was a really positive influence.

“Dylan Farrell went off with a slight ankle injury but we’ll get Gerard Beale back for the Tigers game and Quinlan was very upbeat and positive for the boys so I wouldn’t hesitate in that regard, but we’ll just wait for the scans.

“Dan Hunt pulled up well after playing, he had two stints out there and he was a positive for the side.

“Although Leeson Ah Mau isn’t a new recruit, I thought he was very positive along with Peter Mata’utia when he played 60 minutes with the Cutters and went on to replace Dylan Farrell was very beneficial.

“Michael Witt also did some reasonable things when came on to replace Sam Williams; I have a bit of work to do but that’s what trials are for.”

St George Illawarra Dragons Captain Ben Creagh was disappointed in the Red-and Whites performance and believes the team needs to focus on improving defence before Round 1.

“It was a disappointing start for us but like coach said; our main weaknesses were in ruck defence.

“Defence wasn’t good enough, we’ve done so much work over the preseason on our defence so it was disappointing to put on a performance like we did.

“I don’t think we were committed enough at the start of the game and it won’t be good enough throughout the season.

“We have a bit of work to do over the next two weeks to get that right and there has to be better commitment from all the players."

The Dragons are auctioning their player-worn Charity Shield jerseys and Red V Members and supporters alike can make a bid on their favourite player’s worn-jersey simply by clicking here!

Each successful bidder will have their respective player-worn jersey signed by that player!

All proceeds from the auction will go directly to the St George and Wollongong Hospitals.

The auction commences directly after the final whistle via Dragons Online Auctions on Saturday, February 22 (7.00pm) and will close on Thursday, February 27 (9.00pm).

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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