By Rachael Price

St George Illawarra Dragons centre Charly Runciman is easing himself into his third pre-season training with the Red-and-Whites after an intense season balancing rugby league and studies.

Despite being experienced with pre-seasons, the former NSW Blues U20 representative has found the change in coach and teammates makes training a challenging but refreshing experience.

The 21-year-old hopes to train well and don the Red V more in the coming season as well as continue his engineering studies at the University of Wollongong.

“Pre-season training hasn’t been too hard so far, but we’re slowly building up the intensity,” said Runciman.

“This pre-season has been a little different to the previous ones that I’ve been in; there are different coaching staff and I haven’t really been sure what to expect.

“We all knew it would be different and we knew it would be hard, we’re just trying to get stronger and better.

“I didn’t get much of a break over off-season, I was studying for uni, but I had a quick break up in Noosa which was pretty nice.

“This pre-season has been a good change for all of us; we have the new facilities here at the stadium and we’ve been building into training slowly.

“Some of the boys had a few little niggling injuries that they’ve been able to get rid of so we’ll be getting into the grind of pre-season over the next few weeks and rip in.

“I was hoping to play a few more first-grade games than I did last year, it was good to get an opportunity to show my skill when I did run out on the field though.

“I’m working on my weaknesses so I can really build up my form for next year; I think I can flourish under Mary and play a few more games.

“Training under Mary has been really great for me, he was a centre so I feel like I can go to him for anything and learn a lot off him because he was such a great player.

“We’re a bit younger this year than we have been in previous years but I feel like we have a lot of new experience in the side.

“The guys from the Under 20s side are fitting in really well; it’s daunting training with the bigger boys, but they’re all doing very well.

“Luckily, I haven’t had to tackle any of the big boys just yet but they’re definitely what we need in our side; they’ve been working hard and they’ll be ripping and tearing into it next year.

“There’s a very different feel around the club, it feels like a totally different team to what we’ve had before; I think it’s good that we’re all fresh, but we just need to learn about each other and find what works and what doesn’t.

“University is really good for me to balance with footy, it helps to use one to escape from the other.

“I’m studying a Bachelor of Engineering part-time at the University of Wollongong so I have a few more years left, but I’m enjoying making progress in footy and my education.”