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Bent among five Dragons signings as NRLW faces review

Returning Dragons forward Shaylee Bent says she had multiple offers to join an NRLW rival but opted to stay loyal in a rarity for the club leading into a crunch period for the competition.   

The 20-year-old was unveiled by St George Illawarra as one of their five marquee signings on Monday following the losses of several stars including Jessica Sergis, Isabelle Kelly to the Roosters and Tiana Penitani to Parramatta.

Bent joins captain Kezie Apps and utility Keeley Davis who were allocated to the Dragons alongside Holli Wheeler, who returns from a knee injury and new signing Quincy Dodd.

A Western Sydney product, Bent moved to the Gold Coast at the start of the year but wanted to make sure she remained in the Red V despite several of her teammates moving on.

"We haven't had an introduction yet but for the girls who want to be here they've stayed and that's who we've got to focus on," Bent told NRL.com.

St George Illawarra's 2021 marquee signings - Kezie Apps,  Holli Wheeler, Keeley Davis, Quincy Dodd and Shaylee Bent.
St George Illawarra's 2021 marquee signings - Kezie Apps, Holli Wheeler, Keeley Davis, Quincy Dodd and Shaylee Bent. ©dragons.com.au

"There's only a handful of girls from last year so it's a new team, it's fresh but the girls who wanted to leave, you just let them go.

"This is where the opportunities start for the young girls who will come in and take their spots. I was in their position two years ago. I'm excited for them to have that.

"A lot of other clubs approached me but my first option was the Dragons. I wanted to stay because they've given me so much opportunity and I would not have made rep teams without them."

Davis puts Bent into a gap

Bent conceded she'd been quietly frustrated with her own journey after starting the year an incumbent NSW representative and part of the Indigenous All Stars side in February.

She joined the Tweed Seagulls in Queensland's BHP Premiership but struggled with the lack of game time on offer after the seven-week competition ended in May.

A switch to the centres also didn't pay off with Bent later overlooked by NSW coach Kylie Hilder in the recent women's Ampol State of Origin clash.

"Moving to the Gold Coast was a good experience but just a challenge being such a short club competition," she said.

"I was concussed for one round. You can't get a roll-on, especially for the girls who didn't play Origin there's a big gap between the club competitions and NRLW.

"That's been tough. You just go back to training at home. I'm just keen to use this year's competition to show people I'm still here and just remind them.

Apps collects Brown with a beauty

"It's not just me, there's plenty of girls who are in the same boat."

Bent remained on alert for the NRL's next steps regarding the Telstra Women's Premiership after the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney pushed pre-season for clubs back by at least a week.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo told a media conference on Monday the NRLW would require an immediate review this week regarding its immediate future.

Abdo explains relocation of 12 clubs to Queensland

"We're going to have to amend our plans, we're going to have to adapt, and think about pre-season and think about tournament length, and think about how we create an environment that's safe for our female players, and officials involved in NRLW," Abdo said.

"It's a huge challenge for us. We're working actively and I would imagine in the next week, [we'll] be able to provide some clarity on what a revised NRLW would look like."

The Dragons are expected to announce further NRLW signings later this week.