St George Illawarra have named Willie Talau as the Dragons' Jersey Flegg coach for the upcoming 2019 season.
Talau played 277 first grade games across his distinguished 13-season NRL and English Super League career with the Bulldogs, St Helens and Salford.
The dual New Zealand and Samoan international has worked his way through the coaching ranks of the Bulldogs' junior representative for the past four years, which culminated in their SG Ball team qualifying for the grand final in 2018.
Since agreeing to be head coach of the Dragons' Under-20s side – a decision he described as a "no brainer – Talau has ensured his young squad that those who work hard will reap the rewards.
"Rugby league has been my life for a long time. Over the past four years, I've transitioned into coaching. That's another challenge all together but it's been exciting," Talau said.
"My career is full of good experiences that I can draw upon as coach, especially with these young fellas. I've been where they want to go with their careers, and I know where they're at right now.
"When we first started our pre-season it was a clean slate with most of the players untried at the Jersey Flegg level, so I've already made sure to lay down core values.
"One of them was that I reward hard work and that comes through competing every day. It doesn't matter how old are you are, if you're good enough you'll play."
With the Under-20s first trial less than a month away, Talau is excited to see the squad build past another arduous trial.
"This time of year we have been working really hard. The players are being challenged on a daily basis," Talau said. "It comes with the territory this time of year. We have to work hard and build a foundation for the rest of the season."