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More time spent studying opponents and expanding his rugby league IQ has been the catalyst for a flying start to 2023 for Dragons fullback Tyrell Sloan, according to coach Anthony Griffin.

After being thrust into the No.1 jersey following Cody Ramsey being ruled out for the season with illness, Sloan has proved a consistent threat from the back through the club’s opening six games.

Griffin said the 20-year-old's natural growth as a player and increased focus on preparation means he is now well prepared for regular NRL football in what is his third season at first-grade level.

So far the Indigenous All Stars representative has scored three tries and averaged 114 run metres, with his biggest matchup to date awaiting him on ANZAC Day when he takes on the game’s top fullback in James Tedesco.

“I think he’s been fantastic,” Griffin said of Sloan.

Nobody moves like Tyrell Sloan

“Natural development, he was always going to be better from the experience of games he played last year, but he’s really taken his commitment to another level in the way he prepares, the way he studies the opposition, his football knowledge.

“It’s a hard position to play. You’ve got be the main organiser in defence and a real point of difference in attack, so it takes a lot of learning and self-education, as well as coaching.

To his credit he has really knuckled down and we couldn’t be happier with it at the moment.

Anthony Griffin

“He’s just a really good kid. He’s a good player now, but he’s going to be a great player for the club long term.”

Sloan heads into the game against the Roosters on the back of arguably his best showing of the year, which saw him involved on the ball 38 times in a 20-14 loss to the Raiders.

Performances like that are part of what Griffin sees as an improving spine at the Red V, with standoff Talatau Amone finding his feet after missing the first three games and Jacob Liddle and Moses Mbye developing as a dummy-half combo. 

“We have had some good periods where our execution and our game plan has been really good and really simple and dangerous, and we’ve had other times where we are just a little bit clunky,” Griffin said.

“That’ll improve with time. Junior [Amone] is a couple of games back and Ben Hunt has been a rock there for us. I am sure it’ll be better on Tuesday as well.

“[Jacob] and Moses are doing a really good job together with the hooking role.”

The Roosters will field a new-look spine themselves following the decision to drop Sam Walker to reserve grade for Round 8, with Joey Manu moving from the centres into the No.6 jersey.

Coach Trent Robinson said while Manu is a more than capable option in the halves, the onus will be on Luke Keary to ensure the Kiwi international can play his natural game.

ANZAC Day classics: Roosters v Dragons, 2015

“Luke has to take the responsibility to run that team and allow [Joey] to get into the game as he sees fit,” Robinson said.

“Even though Joey has played many games, we want to allow him to feel the game and express himself how he wants.

“We need to give him the space there to allow [that].”

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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