St George Illawarra Dragons Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward has provided insight into some rising stars from the successful National Youth Competition team presently involved in the first-grade pre-season training squad.
The Young Dragons had a successful 2016 campaign which saw them reach the NYC Preliminary Final and several members have since been elevated to partake in full-time training for the first time to help accelerate their individual development.
Young Dragons captain Patrick Herbert, the recently re-signed Reece Robson and local juniors Blake Lawrie (Dapto Canaries), Reuben Garrick (Gerringong Lions) and Jai Field (Shellharbour Sharks) are part of the 40-man squad and presently undertaking their first full-scale conditioning and preparation.
Matt Dufty, Hame Sele, Izaac Thompson and Jacob Host are also a part of the squad but have already participated in a previous first-grade pre-season which has seen them play above their age bracket in the NSW Cup and, in the case of Host, the NRL.
Local Renown United junior Jacob Host made his first-grade debut last season against the New Zealand Warriors (Round 9) and played eight NRL games during the 2016 season.
The second-rower also featured for the Illawarra Cutters in the NSW Cup and was part of both their NSW Cup and NRL State Championship Grand Final fixtures.
Local Kingsgrove Colts juniors Hame Sele and Izaac Thompson both additionally featured for the Cutters at various stages of the campaign and also contributed towards the fruitful haul of silverware.
Fellow local Penshurst RSL junior Matt Dufty scored 23 tries for the Young Dragons last season and also played twice for the Cutters.
The Redcliffe Dolphins junior, who can play throughout the forward-pack, was also part of the Queensland Maroons U20 team last season.
Local Hurstville United junior Luciano Leilua, is also training with the squad whilst complications with his management representation are sorted.