Dragons centre Euan Aitken believes he can regain the form that once had him on the verge of State of Origin selection as he chases a new NRL deal.
The off-contract 24-year-old has received interest from other clubs but wants to remain with St George Illawarra despite a "frustrating" 2019 season.
In 2018, Aitken was locked in a pre-Origin selection battle with James Roberts. Roberts won that contest and the Blues claimed the series.
"I just want to do what I'm capable of. If I leave it all out there and it doesn't come my way, I'm happy with that," Aitken said.
The powerful ball runner's impact was dulled last year; a byproduct of St George Illawarra regularly playing off the back foot.
Aitken noted the Dragons struggled when it came to having possession inside the opposition's 20-metre zone.
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"I felt like I had a lot more to offer, I just probably wasn't getting as many opportunities as I was used to in previous years – and that's a hard thing to take," he said.
"Centre is sometimes a bit of a position where if your team's not performing that well you're not going to get those opportunities.
"I think it's just getting back to performing as a team and on the back of that I can perform anytime.
"I've always got that strong self-belief that I can play great footy."
New recruit Brayden Wiliame is challenging for a centre spot, though he prefers to play on the left side. That creates a likely battle with Tim Lafai, rather than Aitken.
Nonetheless, Aitken considers the pressure of depth a good thing.
"It just pushes you to train harder and get bigger, get stronger and all that so you're at your peak," he said.
For St George Illawarra to flow in attack, Aitken knows their defence must improve.
The Dragons conceded 23.9 points per game last year - only the wooden spoon-winning Titans fared worse.
Aitken said new assistant coach Shane Flanagan has already made a big difference to their structures, aggression and attitude without the ball.
"We want to have that arrogant mindset: that we're going to be the defensive team that's going to be strong and try to ragdoll people," Aitken said.
"I think [Flanagan] is going to be beneficial. It's another mind, who's coached a team to a premiership. So it's always going to be good having a different mindset there.
"I think him and Dean Young are going to get our strengths in our defence."
St George Illawarra will tour bushfire-ravaged towns on the NSW South Coast including Batemans Bay, Narooma and Lake Conjola on January 28-29.
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It's a cause close to the heart of Aitken, whose home of Pambula was affected by the blazes.
"Our home town didn't get hit as bad as other areas. It's very unfortunate but it's good to see all the positive influences throughout the community and see the Dragons putting on things to help donate money towards the victims that need it," Aitken said.
"They're obviously a catchment area for the Dragons and a rugby league area down there. They support us on the field, so it's time for us as a club to go and support them."
The Dragons have also joined forces with the Illawarra Hawks and Wollongong Wolves for a combined codes bushfire appeal golf day on February 3 at Wollongong Golf Course.