Mann: Following Widdop's Lead
By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
Dragons recruit Kurt Mann hasn't spoken to Gareth Widdop about why the St George Illawarra star moved from Melbourne, but he's pretty confident he knows the reason – to escape the Storm system.
It's not as if Craig Bellamy's ways of coaching are restrictive, but while the club's superstar 'big three' – Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater – remains at Melbourne, a similar style of football will continue to thrive in Victoria.
While Mann left the club a lot earlier and a lot less established in the NRL than Widdop did, he is backing himself to grow as a player under Red V coach Paul McGregor.
"It was hard to leave, I have a lot of good friends there but I couldn't pass up the opportunity the Dragons had offered me here. I just wanted to try something new, I wanted to step out and play a different kind of game," Mann told NRL.com.
"I wanted to do my own sort of thing. Coming up to Wollongong and especially with Mary (McGregor) here... considering the way the Dragons played last year, they were hampered by injuries and still finished in the top eight.
"I haven't really spoken to Gareth about why he moved here or anything but I reckon we would've made the move for the same sort of reasons.
"He's done well being able to just step out and do his own thing – to jump out of the Storm system and to make a name for himself."
Don't get him wrong though, Mann is thankful for the opportunities afforded to him at Melbourne.
Signed from Newcastle's Holden Cup team by the Storm, Mann marked his debut in Round 9 last year by scoring one of the tries of the 2014 season, and a match-winning one at that.
Having gone on to play 28 NRL games at the club, Mann labelled his time at the Storm a "dream come true".
"I learnt a lot from just how professional they are and everyone knows the reputation the Storm has in terms of preparation," he said.
"With some of the older blokes like Coops [Cronk], [Cameron] Smithy and Billy [Slater], they were my idols growing up and you learn a lot from just watching them with their training, dieting and weights."
With rumour rife McGregor has Mann slated for the No. 1 jumper in 2016, with Josh Dugan set for a move to the centres, the 22-year-old said he wasn't fussed by where he plays.
"I don't have a preference. We haven't trained in any positions yet so we'll start looking into those things when the trials are approaching," Mann said.
"I just want to make the most of the next two seasons and make a home for myself here at the Dragons. It's already been great, I'm glad I don't have to spend the hour in the car any more trying to get to training."