St George Illawarra will officially launch a new season and new era under coach Steve Price this evening.
Price will take his place in the coaches’ box in what will be a classic master versus apprentice battle, as he lines up against former mentor Wayne Bennett.
We don’t know much about Steve Price, as he seems to be a quiet, unassuming type of character.
What we do definitively know is that Steve Price, in many ways, embodies the evolution of St George Illawarra as a joint venture. He is Red V through and through.
The 34-year-old’s playing career was cut short from knee injuries, so he took to coaching at a young age, starting as a Jersey Flegg assistant in 2002. He came through from junior representative level to become a Premier League and Toyota Cup under-20s coach.
Although Bennett leaves a massive legacy, Price knows the club intimately and already commands the respect of the players, having coached several of them during his time as mentor of the 2005 grand-final-winning Jersey Flegg outfit.
Having already built these strong relationships with several of the players, and with the added advantage of having the experience of Ben Hornby, Brett Morris, Ben Creagh and Dean Young around him, the foundation to build a legacy of his own is firmly set in place.
Many are waiting for the Dragons to fall this year, following the retirement of centre Mark Gasnier and the defections of Bennett, Darius Boyd, and others.
And yet, as they meet Bennett’s new team tonight, the high expectations this proud club places on itself remain in place.
The Dragons might have had their crown taken away last year with a 13-12 semi-final loss to Brisbane, but the way they left the competition will no doubt make them a stronger unit for their 2012 campaign.