The St George Illawarra Dragons officially returned to training to commence their conditioning and full-scale preparation ahead of the 2017 Premiership season on Monday.
The Dragons full-time pre-season training squad comprises of 40 players, which includes eight new signings including external recruits Cameron McInnes (hooker), Nene McDonald (wing) Paul Vaughan (front row) and Josh Kerr (front row).
Mid-season recruit Tariq Sims will participate in his first Dragons NRL pre-season and 2016 recruit Mose Masoe is rearing to go for 2017 after a serious knee injury sustained last pre-season prevented him from playing in any matches last year.
Cutters players Levi Dodd (centre/wing), Jacob Hind (front row), Chris Lewis (back row) and Shaun Nona (half) have been rewarded with an NRL contract for their performances in 2016 and are excited by the full-time training opportunity.
Rising stars Matt Dufty, Hame Sele as well as six players who are still eligible for NYC in 2017 - Jai Field, Reuben Garrick, Patrick Herbert, Blake Lawrie, Reece Robson and Izaac Thompson will all join the NRL full-time squad in the pre-season.
Dragons international players Euan Aitken (Scotland), Josh Dugan (Australia, Tyson Frizell (Australia), Jason Nightingale (New Zealand) and Gareth Widdop (England) are presently taking part in the Four Nations Tournament in England and will not report of duty until the new year.
Local Hurstville United junior Luciano Leilua, is training with the squad whilst complications with his management representation are sorted.
“There have been a lot of changes made ahead of 2017 and I am really excited to be back,” said Dragons lock Jack de Belin.
“It is exciting seeing all the new staff and meeting new team mates and we are all well aware of what is expected of us individually and as a group over the next weeks and months.
“Our squad has a real mix of experience and youth and it is a great opportunity for these young guys, we all know that there are places and opportunities in 2017 for those who perform well in the pre-season."
2017 Dragons First-Grade Pre-Season Training Squad:
Leeson Ah Mau; Euan Aitken; Jack de Belin; Levi Dodd (Hurstville United); Matt Dufty (Penshurst RSL); Josh Dugan; Kalifa Faifai Loa; Tyson Frizell (Corrimal Cougars); Yaw Kiti Glymin (Arncliffe Scots); Siliva Havili; Jacob Hind; Jacob Host (Renown United); Drew Hutchison (Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles); Josh Kerr; Tim Lafai; Chris Lewis; Nene Macdonald; Kurt Mann; Jake Marketo; Mose Masoe; Will Matthews; Tyrone McCarthy; Josh McCrone; Cameron McInnes; Taane Milne; Jason Nightingale (Renown United); Shaun Nona; Russell Packer; Hame Sele (Kingsgrove Colts); Tariq Sims (Gerringong Lions); Izaac Thompson (Kingsgrove Colts); Joel Thompson; Paul Vaughan; Gareth Widdop.
Dragons NYC Players Training With First-Grade In Pre-Season:
Jai Field (Shellharbour Sharks - NYC); Reuben Garrick (Gerringong Lions - NYC); Patrick Herbert (NYC); Blake Lawrie (Dapto Canaries - NYC); Reece Robson (NYC).