A double dose of first grade action defines a huge weekend for St George Illawarra as the NRL team kick-start their 2022 campaign against the Warriors and the Dragons' NRLW side face the Brisbane Broncos in a table-topping clash.
- Warriors name Round 1 team
- Top of the table NRLW Dragons named
- Dragons line up 24-man squad for season-opener
Boom rookies boosted by experienced sextet
Talk of the Dragons' headline-making juniors dominated pre-season discussions over the Red V's best 17.
Tyrell Sloan and Talatau Amone have hardly scratched the surface of their NRL careers but will start against the Warriors at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday afternoon (5:30pm AEDT).
Their selections? Earned. Not forced.
Unlike the end of last season, the casualty ward isn't bursting at the seams.
While Tariq Sims and George Burgess fight the good fight for full fitness in reggies, Billy Burns (foot), Max Feagai (leg) and Jayden Sullivan (hamstring) continue to work hard behind the scenes.
An influx of experience swept through the Dragons' ranks in November. Four months on, coach Anthony Griffin determined his Round 1 selections in the aftermath of yet another gruelling pre-season.
Six faces stand out. All new to the club. Chockers with first grade experience. 680 NRL games between them in fact.
It's what the doctor ordered. What the upstarts need around them. Like Everest, you can't embark on a full season of first grade alone.
Aaron Woods, Moses Mbye, Jaydn Su'A and Francis Molo. All Origin players. 23 Origins between them, quick maths.
Moses Suli. Never been fitter. Jack Gosiewski. A prime example of pre-season's importance. A late inclusion who forced his way into first grade reckoning.
A well-rounded squad for Saturday? You betcha.
Consecutive wins fires up NRLW
The NRLW Dragons have blown the pundits' predictions away with their fast start to the season.
Two tough wins from two, including a shutout in the big wet against the Eels, has fans of the women's game salivating for this weekend's top of the table clash against the three-time defending premiers Brisbane Broncos at CommBank Stadium on Sunday (12pm).
Even without captain Kezie Apps, Fijian international Talei Holmes and Indigenous All Stars standout Jaime Chapman, the Dragons found a way against the Eels.
All named to return against the Broncos, the Red V will have to make do without Kody House (shoulder charge) and Madison Bartlett (biting) who were both suspended for one week.
They grow up so fast
It doesn't seem that long ago that Zac Lomax debuted, a blink or you'll miss it stint off the bench back in Round 10, 2018.
49 NRL games and a few broken thumbs on, Lomax hits the half century mark this weekend.
It's a crucial season for Lomax. The heights of his 2020 form the desire. A replication of his 178 points scored that year wouldn't go astray either.
It would be enough to surpass club legends Mark Gasnier, Nathan Blacklock, Jason Nightingale, Brett Morris, Matt Cooper and Mark Riddell on St George Illawarra's all-time point-scorers list.
Indeed, an important season beckons.
Duo dual for NRLW club history
The Women's Premiership is only a few years old and records are very well in their infancy but nobody would deny Teagan Berry and Rachael Pearson a cool slice of history as club record point-scorers.
Winger Berry (three NRLW games) and playmaker Pearson (two) have made in-roads in their maiden first grade endeavours, both scoring 14 points. The fourth most ever for the Dragons and only six points off tally topper Jessica Sergis.
Pearson is most likely of the duo having scored all 10 of the Dragons points last week. Her 2021 points already seeing her jump to sixth most points scored by an individual NRLW player in a season.
May more records tumble.
Match highlights: NRLW Round 2 v Eels
Home away from home
The Dragons will be out to make amends for their dreadful conclusion to the 2021 season with a win in Queensland.
Eight losses to round out last year's relocated campaign has proven to be the equal worst streak in St George Illawarra history.
A win on the Sunshine Coast will ensure the demons of last season are well and truly compelled ahead of a bright 2022.