Price: Big Test Awaits
St George Illawarra Dragons Coach Steve Price admits he is eager to see his team challenge the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the annual Charity Shield match held for the first time at WIN Stadium, Wollongong in Saturday.
Price has revealed he will be evaluating the team’s performance and assessing where they stand for the opening round of the season when they take on the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park on Sunday, March 9.
The Head Coach also provided an update on centre Gerard Beale who was ruled out of the fixture with a cheek injury sustained while on duty with the Illawarra Cutters last weekend.
“The coming Charity Shield match is very exciting, the boys are very enthusiastic about getting started with the season,” said Price.
“It’s a very high intensity trial and is always a bit of a grudge match; we can’t wait to get out there and put on a great performance.
“At the end of the day, this match is preparation for Round 1 against the Tigers; we want to get back to being a consistent footy team and Saturday night is a great opportunity to put us in the right frame of mind for the beginning of the season.
“Gerard Beale’s knee is coming along quite well after his knee reconstruction; he took a bit of a knock to his jaw playing against the Bulldogs but he should be fine to play by Round 1.
“I think it’s great having the Charity Shield in Wollongong, it’s going to be a good day; we’ve got the Cutters kicking off at 12:45 and games following all day before the big match, it would be wonderful to see all our Red V supporters out there.
The decision was made to allow young gun Charly Runciman to play in lieu of injured Gerard Beale based on Runciman’s preseason and his performance during the Auckland Nines.
“Charly Runciman has had a good preseason; he went through our junior system with the 20s last year and he was fantastic last week in the Nines so he gets the opportunity at left centre for the Charity Shield replacing Gerard.
“This game will be a good indication of where we’re at against a very good football team and how well all the systems and structures we’ve implemented over preseason; I’m very excited for kick-off tomorrow at 5pm.
The goal of the Annual Charity Shield is to raise funds for St George Hospital in Sydney and Wollongong’s local hospital; to do this, each jersey will be auctioned after the game.
“All of the jerseys will be auctioned after the game and the funds will be going to a worthy cause in Wollongong Hospital and St George Hospital in Sydney; hopefully we can get a lot of people out to the game tomorrow afternoon and get some big bidders for the jerseys after the game.
“I’d love to see a full-house tomorrow afternoon and I’m sure all the boys would too; it would be fantastic for the fans to join us to see three great games of football and I think it would be a great day out for the family.
“Our main priority is to get back to being a consistent footy team and we’ll be focusing on all those little things we’ve been working on over the preseason.
“There will be a few forwards that will have a set amount of game time which they will be required to play and then a few of the other guys will go out to have the opportunity to play.
“It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about putting in consistent effort and performing well while focusing on preparing for Round 1.
“Sam Burgess hasn’t played at all through the trials so I’m sure he’ll bring that intimidating factor and he’s a great player; the Rabbitohs have a really big forward pack so it’s going to be a great challenge for us."
The Charity Shield began in 1982 and so too did the tradition of supporting local charities and causes. In 2014 awareness and proceeds from the Charity Shield will support three charities from within the Dragons Community program – The St.George Foundation, St George and Wollongong Public Hospitals.
The St.George Foundation was founded in 1990 by St.George Bank, also the major partner of the St George Illawarra Dragons.
Over the past 24 years the Foundation has raised more than $20 million to support physically, socially and economically disadvantaged kids across Australia.
In 30 Charity Shield fixtures contested since 1982, the Dragons have recorded 16 wins, 10 loses and drawn on four occasions.
Tickets for the 2014 Charity Shield are now on sale to the general public through Ticketek.
For further information or to purchase tickets please click here.
The Club will auction off their player-worn jerseys on the night with all proceeds going directly to both hospitals.
The auction will commence directly after the final whistle on Saturday, February 22 (7.00pm) and close on Thursday, February 27 (9.00pm). Visit www.dragons.com.au to place your bid!