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Red V prodigies prepared to jostle for 2022 halves spot

Talatau Amone grew up partnering Jayden Sullivan in the halves but the Dragons prodigies are prepared to jostle for a starting berth alongside captain Ben Hunt in 2022.

The pair joined with fullback Tyrell Sloan to form an enterprising spine combination in last Saturday's 38-26 loss to North Queensland.

While Amone and Sullivan guided the Illawarra Steelers to the 2019 SG Ball (then under-18s) premiership from the scrumbase, the latter has played an unfamiliar dummy-half role for the past two rounds.

Sullivan's zip around the ruck has proven an asset but Amone is expecting the fellow 19-year-old to remain a halfback long-term.

"That's the first time seeing him play nine, the last two weeks. But he's a great number seven," Amone said on Wednesday.

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"He's grown up playing halfback, even five-eighth. If you see what he's done, he's a great halfback, a great halves partner.

"He and I play well together and we work off the back of each other, but we've just got to wait and see [in 2022], I guess.

"Even if we are fighting it out for that No.6, I'll just be happy to find my name on the team [sheet]. I just want to be working forward to playing as many games as I can next year."

Outgoing veteran Corey Norman has been Amone's offsider in his first couple of starting appearances with Hunt out due to a broken arm.

After being drip-fed 10 matches during the year, Amone is anticipating further improvement in the upcoming pre-season.

"Every game I get more comfortable and more comfortable, so I'm just trying to build off that," the playmaker said.

"I think I just need to get better on my decision-making. There were a few times in that game [against the Cowboys] that I should have done stuff that I didn't and I did stuff that I shouldn't have."

It was the first time that Sullivan, Amone and Sloan had started in the NRL together but their junior connection was evident.

Amone said he and Sloan shared a "secret game-plan" that led to him cleverly kick back on the inside for the custodian to score.

Sloan, who will play his fifth first-grade game against the Rabbitohs on Saturday night, is hopeful of shoring up his position.

"At the start of the year I didn't believe I would be where I was. It was always a goal, but to progress throughout the year and finally get a couple of starts in NRL, it's just pretty crazy," he said.

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"But whatever decision Hook [coach Anthony Griffin] makes next year with the No.1 jersey, I know it will be the right decision for the team.

"That's what we all want ... I've learnt a lot on and off the field. Mainly the off-field things, just trying to be a professional athlete, doing the right things each and every day.

"And I'm still a kid, I've got a lot to learn on and off the field as well, so I'm just trying to take in as much as I can.

"Being in this bubble-hub thing helps a lot. I'm around all the boys each and every day and they're taking me under their wing like they always have since pre-season."

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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