By Rachael Price
St George Illawarra Dragons halfback Shannon Crook is enjoying his first pre-season with the Red-and-Whites and relishing whatever advice is passed his way.
The Narellan Jets junior feels he is learning from the best training alongside Benji Marshall and is enthusiastic about meeting Gareth Widdop now he has returned from an extended off-season break.
The Dragons National Youth Competition team graduate, 20, is looking forward to getting a full pre-season under his belt and hopes to secure a position within the Illawarra Cutters if he is unable to vie for a first-grade squad.
“Training has been tough but really enjoyable; the way that Mary and the preseason staff have structured training has been beneficial to all of us,” said Crook.
“Last year was great working under Benny and Deano, and now I get to continue working with them in first-grade training, it made the transition from the NYC a lot easier.
“I need to keep training hard out there on the field and impress Mary and the coaching staff to hopefully lock in a spot at the Cutters.
“It’s been great working with Benji this preseason, I’ve learned a lot from him; he’s taken me aside at training every now and then and shown me the little things I can improve in my game.
“He’s a great player and now Gareth is back so I couldn’t ask for two better players to learn from.
“Drew Hutcherson is also training with the first-graders along with Euan Aitken; we’ve all pushed up through the Under 20s and it’s great to see some familiar faces.
“Like everyone, my goal for this season is to play first-grade; I haven’t had a good pre-season for the past few years after my ACL was injured, so I’d like to get a good preseason.
“For me to be able to play first-grade I need to keep training hard, impressing Mary and pushing for a spot in the team.”