By Blake Edwards
Illawarra Cutters prop Jay Gallagher believes he is one step closer to fulfilling his dream of playing first-grade after being named in the St George Illawarra Dragons NRL Nines squad.
The Glen Innes native is the sole representative from the team to be included in the Dragons squad for the two-day tournament taking place at Eden Park, Auckland this weekend.
Gallagher was presented with the opportunity by Dragons Head Coach Paul McGregor after the youngster received a lot of praise from Cutters coaching staff for his commitment and dedication during the first phase of Cutters pre-season training.
The forward is a recent graduate of the Dragons National Youth Competition team and wants to use the upcoming experience to help establish himself in the NSW Cup competition.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to play in the tournament this weekend as playing alongside the likes of Josh Dugan and Jack De Belin is a really big thing for me,” said Gallagher.
“I really want to learn as much as I can from the NRL boys so I can hopefully bring it back and apply it to my game.
“Coming through the Dragon's development system has been great.
“The training processes all the way through have been second to none and the coaching staff has been very supportive.
“I learnt a lot in the NYC and I believe it’s made me ready for the next phase of my footballing journey.
“The step-up from the Under 20s to NSW Cup has been good for me and I've learnt quite a bit already.
“The physicality is definitely different to the NYC competition though playing Under 20s is a little quicker so I am still getting used to the adjustment.”