By Chris Kennedy (NRL.com)
Dragons recruit George Rose says he's disappointed with how he played at Melbourne in 2014 and wants to feature in every single game for the Red V next year as he adds his hefty frame to an underperforming pack.
Speaking to NRL.com shortly after joining St George Illawarra's pre-season training, Rose also fired up over media reports bagging the Dragons' new recruits, fiercely defending the talent and depth in coach Paul McGregor's 2015 squad.
The Dragons forwards were criticised at times in 2014 for not winning the battle in the middle of the park, and Rose said his size was a factor in his recruitment after he returned to Sydney after a less than stellar year with the Storm.
"There was a little bit of talk about it; they've got some great young forwards who are very fit and very mobile and they were probably just lacking a little bit of size," Rose said.
"They said they wanted a bit more size and there's a few of us that they've got here this year, we've got a bit of a big boy crew happening.
"We're all working together and hoping that we can bring something new to the club next year."
The 31-year-old freely admitted to being very disappointed with his one season at the Storm and hopes to both play far more than the nine games he managed in 2014 and improve the quality of his performances as well.
"Last year was very disappointing," said Rose.
"I want to definitely play a lot more games than that.
"I want to play in every game next year definitely, that's one goal.
"And to play better than I did last year, I didn't play up to the standard that I wanted last year and I've got another level to go to."
Melbourne may not have turned out to be the best fit for Rose and he came back to Sydney not originally expecting to be picked up by a club, but is now relishing the chance to pull on the jersey of the club he supported as a kid growing up in Walgett, in country NSW.
"The Walgett colours were the Dragons colours so the first game I ever played was in a Dragons jersey," said Rose.
"Half the town supports the Dragons and the fact that [former St George and NSW Origin winger] Ricky Walford used to play there too got everyone hooked on the Dragons.
"Everyone back there's pretty happy that I'm signed to them.
"It's not often you get the opportunity to play for the club you support as a child; you can't pick and choose who you want to play for so to get this chance is good."
While Rose may be enjoying coming full circle to the red and white, he is not so elated to be back in pre-season training, where a finger operation has him doing extra cardio work.
"I probably regret doing it [the finger operation] now because it means I do all the running while they do the fun stuff passing the ball," said Rose.
"I do a bit more running but it's good for me, it's probably what I need the most.
"It just means pre-season sucks – but I've never had an enjoyable one!"
Rose's larger frame has always been one of his hallmarks, but despite carrying more weight than most his natural athleticism combined with that size makes him a threat and he said finding a balance between size and fitness is a constant battle.
"We spoke about keeping that size, having the size and being able to do the other things they want me to do," Rose laughed.
I think I'm pretty lucky they're wanting a bigger player. I always try to find that balance, even if sometimes I get a little bit mixed up.
"The biggest thing is I want to have a better season than last year – I want to play in every game if I can and just be happy with my performances week in week out.
"There's a type of game I like to play and I know at the end of a game if I'm happy with my game.
"If I can provide a big impact for this team in any way I'll be pretty happy with myself then."
The Dragons have been criticised in some quarters for a recruitment strategy that has seen them pick up a number of players who struggled to maintain a place in first grade at their previous clubs.
"In addition to Rose, former Penrith NSW Cup winger Eto Nabuli is yet to play first grade, former Warriors centre Dane Nielsen played around half a season in 2014, former Bulldogs half Kris Keating is a depth signing behind Benji Marshall and Gareth Widdopp, and former Roosters hooker Heath Le'Estrange and former Titans playmaker Beau Henry played a combined eight games between them in 2014.
By contrast, they've lost Kangaroos winger Brett Morris and Kiwi Test back Gerard Beale, as well as Samoa Four Nations playmaker Kyle Stanley.
It prompted a story on Fox Sports and News Ltd suggesting Dragons fans "should be worried" about the club's recruitment strategy – a suggestion that didn't impress Rose when mentioned by NRL.com.
"I actually hadn't even read it til you brought it up now, but now I'm pretty angry and I want to punch you in the face," Rose deadpanned, and there was a nervous moment or two for NRL.com until he broke out into that broad grin.
"Nah I hadn't really read that but I know there's going to be negative comments around, especially off the back of the season I had last year.
"It's not like I'm coming off a blockbusting season so if there's negative comments let it be.
"I generally leave the talk to what I do on the field.
"If I'm doing what I want on the field I'm pretty sure people will be happy with that.
"Let them say what they want until then, I can't prove anyone wrong with my words, it's just the actions."
And in regards to the club's overall recruitment?
"I'm not worried about the talent or the depth of this squad. I think there's plenty there and plenty of guys with points to prove."