By Mary Maidiotis
St George Illawarra Dragons winger Jason Nightingale is ecstatic to continue running out in the Red V until at least the end of 2017, after signing a two-year contract extension with the Club.
The Renown United junior, who made his first-grade debut for the Dragons in 2007, is hopeful of remaining a one-club player and admits that loyalty was the deciding factor in re-signing.
Nightingale, 28, also credited the overwhelming support of the Red-and-White fans for making his decision to stay easier.
The New Zealand International is now looking forward to continuing the season, minus the stress over his future, starting against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium, Moore Park on Monday.
“I’m very excited about re-signing and it’s awesome to have the opportunity to play another two years at the club that I was a local junior for and being surrounded by people that I care about,” said Nightingale.
“You do a lot of thinking with your family and what’s best for you, so you have a lot of things to weigh up, but at the end of the day, this is where I want to be.
“Being a one-club player is obviously a goal of mine and this is another step in that direction and hopefully I can make that happen.
“Our fans were also a big part of the decision, they’ve been nothing but supportive my whole career.
“Growing up in the area makes a big difference and having that support there, it takes a lot to walk away from that.
“Obviously we’ve been through a bit of a rebuilding phase over the last few years and while it hasn’t been the easiest of times, the future is definitely bright and especially the remainder of this season.
“The halfway point is a great opportunity to decide on your future as you need to know what you’re doing in order to concentrate on the nitty gritty part of the season, so I’m very excited for the back half of the season and all it has to offer, as well as a couple of seasons in the future.
“I’ve been handling it pretty well for the last few weeks, I haven’t lacked any motivation and I don’t think there’s any room for that in this sport - just because you’re in negotiations, doesn’t mean you have to think about it.
“I’m really looking forward to not having to speak about it though, so I can really concentrate on my footy and I think I will be a better player due to that relaxation of the mind.
“It’s a good time to settle your future, we’ve just had a bye period and some time to organise everything so you can get that stability in the playing roster and everyone else can just focus on footy.
“That’s what we’re looking forward to doing towards the back half of the season, it’s going to be a big grind into the end but with a lot of key players deciding their futures, it will enable us to focus solely on working towards the semis.
“The remainder of the season is probably going to be the toughest period we will go through, and there’s a bit of travel in the back end, but we’re just focusing on Monday night right now.
“Mary and our performance staff have done a great job looking after our bodies and that’s what this next period will be - getting wins, looking after our bodies and making sure we maintain the position we are in and the consistency of our performances.
“The Roosters will be looking to build on their win over the Warriors on the weekend and with their Origin players backing up, there will be a lot to review today and over the next few days.
“They’ve got a lot of strike weapons and we’ll really need to be on our game, they’re probably hurting a little bit after ANZAC Day and they won’t want us to get back-to-back wins against them.”