You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
‘A childhood dream come true’: Muhleisen ecstatic ahead of NRL debut

Connor Muhleisen’s journey to the NRL has taken a plethora of hard work and sacrifice and, when he makes his way onto the WIN Stadium turf on Saturday evening and becomes St George Illawarra Dragon #267, a lifelong dream will be realised.

Dedication and hard work: Dragon #267 Jersey presentation

Hailing from Buxton in the Wollondilly Shire and growing up playing juniors with the Thirlmere Roosters, Muhleisen relocated to the Wollongong area as a 15-year-old to play Harold Matthews Cup with the Steelers and link up with the Thirroul Butchers in the Illawarra Rugby League.

Having grown up a Dragons supporter, Muhleisen says it “means a lot” to get his first taste of NRL action with the Red V.

“I’ve supported the club since I was a toddler,” Muhleisen said.

“As soon as I had the opportunity to move down here as a teenager, there was no other option for me; it was this or nothing. It means a lot.”

His first port of call upon learning that he would be making his NRL debut was his father, Rhett, who has ridden the rugby league roller coaster alongside his son since the beginning.

“My first call was my dad. My dad’s been a part of the highs and lows with me. You know, the journey of rugby league,” he said.

“My dad’s my role model but probably my best mate as well… It was an emotional call. Obviously, it’s a childhood dream come true and to share that with him is special.”

The 22-year-old is set to become the seventh member of the 2019 Illawarra Steelers SG Ball premiership-winning squad to debut at NRL level joining Junior Amone, Mathew Feagai, Max Feagai, Aaron Schoupp, Tyrell Sloan and Jayden Sullivan.

“It’s pretty special seeing as we’ve been mates the whole way through,” he said.

“It makes it a little more comfortable because you’ve got a couple of boys that you came through the grades with… Blocka’s sort of taken a few of the younger boys under his wing and really looked after us and held us accountable when we’ve needed it [and], when I first came in, Bomber was very welcoming and makes you feel a part of the squad.”

Seeing Muhleisen honing his skills long after the rest of the squad have exited the training paddock has become a common sight at Dragons training sessions over the past couple of seasons and he says he does not rue a second of it.

“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” he said.

“All the extras staying behind being the last one on the field and, even on my days off, going down to the field with my mates; it’s all worth it now.”

Dragons interim coach Ryan Carr is pleased to hand Muhleisen an opportunity after having proven himself at training and at Knock On Effect NSW Cup level.

“It’s nice to give Connor his debut,” Carr said.

“He’s been working really hard in his training and his preparation and puts a lot of time into his game. He’s a very dedicated kid and he’s been playing some very good footy in Cup and he’s been a reliable player for us there, so, yeah, it’ll be good for him to get an opportunity there tomorrow night.”

Muhleisen admits that there have been nerves throughout the week but that he will be focused purely on his role when he takes to the field on Saturday evening.

“I’m usually not too bad with nerves but there’s definitely going to be a few nerves this time. I’ve had a few nerves through the week so far but I’m trying to keep a lid on the emotions,” he said.

“I just sort of take one thing at a time… I just want to go out there and do my job and do it well and not let anyone down.”

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.

Major Partner

Apparel Partners

Icon Partners

View All Partners