St George Illawarra Dragons National Youth Competition team Head Coach Mat Head reflects on the season following the 26-20 loss to the Sydney Roosters in the Preliminary Final at Allianz Stadium, Moore Park on Friday.
The Young Dragons finished the regular competition season in third position having recorded 15 victories and only the one draw.
Head admits that while attaining silverware would have proven the perfect tonic he is pleased to have watched the development and growth of his players.
Young Dragons duo Jacob Host and Luciano Leilua both made their respective first-grade debuts at different stages of the season while several further members including Matt Dufty, Patrick Herbert, Izaac Thompson and Hame Sele all featured for the Illawarra Cutters in the NSW Cup.
“It was not the night that we wanted to finish on obviously being a week short,” said Head.
“It was against the Roosters on ANZAC Day where we decided to turn up and play some footy and we built some confidence off the back of that.
“We did have to travel interstate for a lot of the first weeks of the season it seemed but we got some consistency in our training and lead-up to games.
“We had a good run there during the middle of the season as well as towards the end but unfortunately we fell just one short.
“It’s a credit to the boys who have really worked hard and we got ourselves into a position where a lot of people saw some standout individuals in our footy team.
“It’s probably one of the proudest things as a coach to witness is how hard the players and guys below you train and how close them come together as a group.
“We tried to build that culture at the start of the season and by the end of it the players were running it.
“As a coach, like the players, you really want to win each week but it’s more important about getting these players ready for the next step, whether it be getting prepared for NSW Cup or first-grade.
“Hopefully we see a few of those blokes go on to play first-grade but most importantly they have some friendships for life.”