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Dragons forward Holli Wheeler.

Holli Wheeler could've taken the easy way out and added her name to the large player turnover statistic that has surfaced ahead of the 2019 NRL Holden Women's Premiership season.   

The St George Illawarra forward had a fair case, too.

Wheeler drove from Newcastle to Wollongong with Hunter-based team-mates Hannah Southwell and Mel Howard last season but that pair have since joined the Roosters, leaving the Jillaroos forward with some thinking to do.

A chat with CRL Newcastle and now Sydney Roosters coach Rick Stone, who coached Wheeler during their NSW premiership victory, wasn't enough to convince her to shun the club who gave her a start in 2018.

"Stoney wanted to keep the nucleus of the Newcastle team and put us through the Roosters system," Wheeler told

"But I've grown up with my brothers and dad all playing for one club. Coming through the grades I've always known loyalty.

Kezie Apps and Holli Wheeler celebrate the Blues' Origin win.
Kezie Apps and Holli Wheeler celebrate the Blues' Origin win. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"The Dragons gave me a crack last year and I owe them that. It's the least I can do because I've gone on since to play for NSW and the Jillaroos on the back of those games last year.

"Stoney understood where I was coming from and was really cool like that. I thought it might have been a bit awkward if I said no but it was the complete opposite."

Such is the player turnover heading into season two that Wheeler will have 14 new team-mates to develop combinations with over the next six weeks, eight of whom she spent time with in NSW camp in June.

Wheeler is renowned as a fast learner and isn't afraid to ask questions in a team meeting if something isn't right.

"The vibe in camps is awesome and you feel at ease," Wheeler said.

"I like to ask questions, there is a lot of questions on behalf of others, and I don't mind making a fool out of myself."

Once she gets on the paddock, Wheeler is one of the most aggressive players in the game. She conceded the most amount of penalties in last year's NRLW but don't expect that trend to continue.

"Discipline is massive and something I'll work on this year. I'm very competitive growing up with my brothers close in age," she said.

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"Everything we did we were always competing against each other. A game of monopoly usually ended in blood, sweat and tears because one of us couldn't handle losing.

"Everything I do I'm competitive, you're out there to win. I don't go out to play dirty but play hard and walk off the field knowing I did everything to help my team-mates."

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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