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After falling short of the finals for their fourth consecutive season, Dragons forward Josh Kerr believes his side is ready to turn around what has mounted to an “embarrassing” few years at the Red V.

With Zane Musgrove, Nick Lui Toso and Jacob Liddle the only new additions to the Dragons 2023 roster to date, it’s hard to expect any major shake-up within the Red V’s 1-17 as it stands, but the 26-year-old forward said a cultural revolution is motivating a fit and firing group of footballers in Sydney’s south.

“A big point we’ve made in this pre-season is that we haven’t been anywhere where we want to be on or off the field in the last few years and that needs to change,” Kerr told the media during pre-season training.

“I think you don’t really realise what’s happening until the end of season when you reflect on the year but what we’ve been doing obviously hasn’t been working.

"It’s embarrassing where we’ve been the last few years and we’ve just been feeling sorry for ourselves but this year we’ve recognised we need to change."

After a plethora of changes to their coaching staff, Ben Woolf and Ryan Carr have joined Griffin as assistant coaches for 2023 and Kerr said the new mentors have brought a modern perspective and energy to pre-season training.

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Admitting the club has been affected by culture and roster issues in recent seasons, the Queensland product said the Dragons, young and old, are all buying into what feels like a new era at the club.

“We’ve got two great assistants in at the moment, Carry and Wolfey who bring a lot of energy as well as the young lads coming through,” he said.

“We know Hook (Griffin) is a bit old school so it’s a bit of a different training style and regime than what we’re accustomed to but everyone is buying in.

“Everyone’s running really well, all the skills have gone through the roof and I feel like we’re miles ahead of where we have been the last few years.”

With off-field drama and controversy plaguing the club in recent seasons, the Indigenous All Stars representative said he is working hard to improve as a player on and off the field ahead of the 2023 season.

After being dropped down to reserve grade on several occasions during the 2022 season, the forward has been focusing on improving his defence ahead of the Dragon's Round 2 clash against the Titans.

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“It has been embarrassing where we’ve been the last few years and I know I’m a part of that. I’ve mucked up as a man on and off the field so I need to change that myself,” he said. “I think everyone has taken a good look in the mirror and done that as well.”

“I’m doing a lot of work with the assistants, especially Wolfey, on my defence. That’s an area where I’ve always struggled in my game and I feel like I’m growing a lot personally with him.

“I’m a bit heavier and a bit stronger this year too so I’m pretty excited for what’s coming.”

The Redcliffe Dolphins junior said an overhaul of the Dragon’s team hierarchy and dissolving of any age disparities is also what must change if the Red V can end their longest finals drought since 1999.

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“I think what makes me happiest is that a lot of the older boys have bought into the new culture as well,” he said.

“Someone like (Aaron) Woodsy who has already done so much in the game is back here busting his backside running and making all of his time trials.

“You could understand if he wasn’t doing that but that’s not what we want the culture to be about.

“That's the coolest thing – everyone’s just buying in and there doesn’t seem to be a hierarchy anymore.

“I feel like this year is the biggest shift I’ve seen from a cultural standpoint.”

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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