Rachael Price

St George Illawarra Dragons National Youth Competition team centre Euan Aitken is thriving and learning from experienced players in his first pre-season training with the first-grade squad.

The Junior Kangaroos representative admits he has a desire to train hard alongside and learn from his more senior peers and knows this will benefit him in breaking into the first-grade squad.

Aitken, 19, is amongst an 18-man Dragons squad named by Head Coach Paul McGregor for the upcoming NRL Auckland Nines tournament and knows this is the first step towards achieving that goal.

 “Pre-season training is tough but it has been great; it’s good to build my confidence by training with the big boys,” said Aitken.

“It’s great learning from the guys who have been there and done that and they have the experience to pass onto me.

“There’s a bit of a difference between the Under 20s pre-season and the first-grade preseason.

“There’s a lot more time to do different drills in training; we start at 8.00am and don’t get home until 4:30pm.

“The team has been really helpful, they’re always willing to give me advice and there are few younger guys who now have a couple of preseasons under their belt.

“I don’t do too bad in fitness; it’s good to have the opportunity to compete with the more experienced players.

“I’d love to play in the Auckland Nines, it would be a great experience but in terms of a long term goal I’d like to get out there and play a few first-grade games.

“I think I need to improve my defence, I’ve been working really hard to get that top-notch.

“Training has changed a lot from when we first started, I can feel that the season is getting closer and the squad’s focus is increasing as the season gets closer.”