Dragons' 2019 preparations officially underway

Preparations for the St George Illawarra Dragons' 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership campaign officially kicked off this week, ushering in a new era for the famed Red V.

While a mixed run in the back end of the 2018 season led to an inspired run to the semi-finals, the Dragons will look to go a few steps further in their upcoming tilt for premiership glory.

Fijian international Korbin Sims headlines a host of new faces, which also include exciting prospects Mikaele Ravalawa, Jonus Pearson, Lachlan Timm, Jason Saab and Eddie Blacker.

Dragons coach Paul McGregor hailed the exciting times ahead for the club.

"There is plenty to look forward to in 2019, and pre-season is the beginning of something better for the Dragons," McGregor said.

"Going through the experiences of 2018 have made us far more resilient. We will be strengthened by the adversity we faced throughout the past season.

"With the young talent we have coming through, it provides an optimistic outlook for the upcoming season and beyond."

Dragons Head of Athletic Performance Nathan Pickworth will once again ensure the current 34-man squad are at optimal fitness come Round 1 in March.

"I'd be lying if I said we weren't shooting for higher honours in 2019. We've identified key areas in which we can advance in and have implemented key strategies to improve the performance of the team," Pickworth said.

"Plenty of boys are a lot fitter, faster, stronger and powerful than they were 12 months ago which is great. But it would be naïve of us to rest on our laurels so no doubt we're looking to improve."

Changes have been afoot off the field too following Brian Johnston and Andrew Gordon's commencement as St George Illawarra Chief Executive Officer and Chairman respectively.

The Dragons' inaugural CEO Johnston returns to the helm with extensive management experience across a variety of sectors under his belt following his years spent at companies such as Suncorp, IAG and Office National

With three successfully attained Masters Degrees in Business Administration, Business Coaching and Science to boot, Johnston said he's excited to return to the club in a full-time capacity.

"I am very excited about the season and challenges ahead as the role has changed significantly, as has the sport and entertainment landscape," Johnston said.

"Our preparations both on and off the field are well underway and I am looking forward to working with and building relationships with the staff, team and all our stakeholders, both new and existing."

New Chairman Gordon has been a Dragons board member since 2006 and currently holds the Executive Chair of WIN Corporation.

Gordon has held key executive roles for over a decade in television and radio at companies such as SP Telemedia, Crawford Productions, Mildura Digital Television, Western Digital Television, Broadcast Transmission Services and MediaHub.

"I am very proud to be the Chairman of the St George Illawarra Dragons and I am excited about the future of the club," Gordon said.