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St George Illawarra managed to win half their matches in 2022 but left it all too late to reach the finals with coach Anthony Griffin looking ahead to his third season in charge. 

The Dragons couldn't quite sort out their 1-17 throughout the year, which will be a big focus point over the summer, while a few departures will open the door for new opportunities. reflects on some key talking points for the Dragons in 2022 ahead of their return to pre-season training in November.

Finding the positives

The Dragons went within two wins of potentially making the finals and will look back at four games where they suffered defeat by six points or less. 

The tense finishes against Penrith in Round 2, the Titans in Magic Round and Raiders at GIO Stadium all came back to bite despite the Red V trailing those teams at half-time. 

The Dragons will want a fast start next season after dropping four of their opening five games in 2022, leaving them with work to do. 

They did well to win 11 of their next 19 games but could only remain in the top eight for a week before finding it too hard a task to get back. 

Their three-game winning streak to finish the season should give them confidence and with a similiar squad set for 2023 they should have everything in place to hit the ground running.

'Proud and happy': Hunt on re-signing

Two words, one player.

Ben Hunt. It's scary to think where the Dragons would've been without the club captain in 2022 with Hunt's form putting him in the Dally M box seat right up until Nicho Hynes set a record himself to claim the medal. 

Hunt's form should give every Dragons fan some optimism next season but he'll need some help from his teammates at the same time.

His re-signing is a massive boost for the Red V, who have made limited moves in the market so far for 2023 and will rely on senior players next year. 

That's Amone

Talatau Amone backed up his first NRL season in 2021 by going on to play a further 24 games in 2022. 

He started in 20 matches, scoring six tries and producing 13 try assists overall in a fine showing to offer Ben Hunt support - and hope - that it isn't just a one-man band at the Dragons. 

Amone's contract extension until at least the end of 2024 is a positive for the Red V and you'd expect him to get even better next year with more time spent alongside Hunt in the halves.

Part of Amone's development can involve his kicking game with Hunt doing most of the work as a combination in 2022.

Rookie coaches get their chance

Ben Woolf and Ryan Carr will join Anthony Griffin in 2023 as assistant coaches and both will bring modern day mentoring and different perspectives after coaching across both states. 

Woolf has been head coach of the Tweed Seagulls for five seasons and is renowned for his open communication and honesty. 

Meanwhile, Carr arrives at Parramatta after joining Brad Arthur halfway through the Eels' push towards the grand final. 

At just 34, Carr's own career at South Sydney was cut short due to injury before he transitioned into coaching in the UK.

Cody Ramsey at home out the back

Duo kick on in Red V

Dragons rookies Mat Feagai and Cody Ramsey both put their hands up in 2022 with Feagai and Ramsey in particular showing signs of development from when the pair made their debuts in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Feagai came up with 19 line breaks for the year on the wing while Ramsey spent the second half of the season at fullback, where he improved with more time spent in the No.1 jersey. 

New recruit Tautau Moga was also a handy pick-up with the luckless outside back earning a one-year contract extension with seven tries in 10 games.

Bird's the word

Another key retention for the Dragons - and what a sight to see him back on the field more consistently - with Jack Bird producing near back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2015-2016. 

Bird will be a key figure for the Dragons in 2023, particularly if he is to start in the forwards with Tariq Sims moving on to Melbourne. 

Bird's best position is still up for debate after he was used at lock, centre, second row and five-eighth throughout the year. 

In perhaps a stat that answers the question itself, the Dragons' nine of their 11 wins came when Bird was playing as a forward. 

Sloan's big call

Tyrell Sloan endured a mixed year at the Dragons with the 20-year-old restricted to just eight games under Anthony Griffin. 

After scoring six tries in his opening five games of first grade in 2021, Sloan lasted just three rounds before not being sighted again in the NRL until Round 10.

The return was short lived with the 20-year-old having to weight another two months to get another chance in the top before he finished the season on the wing.

Rookie Reflections: Tyrell Sloan

Sloan signed a contract extension with the Dragons in January after being elevated to the top 30 and up until more recently he withdrew a second request at a release. 

His development over the next 12 months at the Dragons will be a major talking point for the club.

Hook reunites with Panther

The Dragons continue to give promising statewide players an opportunity to pursue their NRL dreams, with most recent signing Nick Lui-Toso joining after a stellar season with Northern Pride.

The big prop, who has previously been contracted with the Cowboys and Panthers, was named the Hostplus Cup’s prop of the year.

Griffin and Lui-Toso when spent time at the Panthers across three seasons from 2016.

His signing follows call-ups to other Queensland Rugby League award winners this past season, with Jono Reuben and Michael Molo both making their NRL debuts. 

Suli the destroyer

Suli shows promise

Moses Suli failed to finish the 2022 season due to a syndesmosis injury in a cruel blow just as the Dragons recruit was starting to find his feet in the Red V. 

Suli has been criticised in the past for his commitment to training and performances but produced career-best numbers at his new club. 

His 143 running metres was better than his time spent at Manly and the Wests Tigers while defensively he was also relatively sound compared to previous seasons.

The 24-year-old should return to the Dragons raring to go in the centres after representing Tonga at the World Cup.

De Belin finds his feet

Jack de Belin backed up his 11 appearances in 2021 to play every game for the Dragons in 2022 after previously missing two years of rugby league under the NRL's No-Fault Stand Down policy.

It's a positive for the Dragons to see de Belin rediscovering some of the football that saw him represent NSW in 2018 after the club stood by him during a difficult period. 

The 31-year-old scored a career-high five tries in 2022 and in a sign of perhaps things to come, he was used in the front row towards the end of the season.

With forwards Tariq Sims (Storm) and Josh McGuire (Super League), George Burgess (released), Jack Gosiewski (Cowboys) and Jackson Ford (Warriors) leaving the club, de Belin will be one of the most experienced players in the pack.

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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