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Dragons look for NRL premiership in 2019

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Roar Guru
14th January, 2019
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In 2018 the Dragons led the premiership for much of the year but only just managed to make the NRL finals despite their usual late-season slump.

This year the Dragons are looking to challenge for the premiership.

With a strong and experienced squad, particularly in the forwards, coach Paul McGregor needs to win the tough matches towards the end of the season. This has been elusive in the past but needs to be done if the premiership window is to be open for the Dragons.

The arrival of ex-Eels playmaker Corey Norman provides additional attacking options for the Dragons with both Norman and Gareth Widdop able to play fullback, halfback or five-eighth.

There were times in 2018 that both Widdop and Hunt looked devoid of attacking ideas and Corey Norman will add an additional attacking option for the Dragons, with left foot kicker Norman likely to play 5/8 with right foot kicker Hunt playing halfback and Widdop dropping back to fullback where he played for England.

Euan Aitken and Tim Lafai should retain their positions as centres, but with Nene Macdonald (Cowboys) and Jason Nightingale (retired) departing the positions of the two wingers are open for the remaining backs.

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Impressive youngster Zac Lomax and and solid winger Jordan Pereira played towards the end of 2018 due to injuries and are a good chance of starting on the flank in 2019 but that leaves the elusive Matt Dufty without a start.

In my view, Dufty on the wing will significantly enhance the Dragons attack and he will have a lesser defensive challenge on the wing compared to fullback, although the high balls may be a challenge.

Mat Head, the Dragons Transition Coach, has also confirmed the return of former Dragons centre Charly Runciman from Super League who will be pushing for a centre/wing spot, along with a host of other wingers Mikaele Ravalawa, Jonas Pearson (from the Broncos), Jason Saab, Steven Marsters and Jai Field.

There is not much change expected in the Dragons forwards in 2019 with a front row of Paul Vaughan, Cameron McInnes and James Graham and with a back row of Tyson Frizell, Tariq Sims and Jack De Belin (assuming is pending court charges do not exclude him).

Korbin Sims experienced ex-Bronco is expected to fill the bench position of Leeson Ah Mau (who is with Warriors in 2019) but he will miss the opening round due to suspension.

Jacob Host, Jeremy Latimore and Luciano Leilua look likely to fill the remaining bench spots unless coach McGregor elects to use Dufty on the bench.

Forwards likely to be contending in the event of an injury include Blake Lawrie, Mitchell Allgood, Lachlan Timm and Joss Kerr (front and second row) and, Joe Lovodua and Reese Robson (hooker).

Tariq Sims

Tariq Sims of the Dragons. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

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The Dragons are very strong in the forwards and appear strong all over the park with the possible exception of the relatively inexperienced wingers.

As always, Coach McGregor bears the responsibility for the overall performance of the team particularly in the big games in the second half of the season.

Hopefully, injuries will be kind to the Dragons or if they are not some exciting ISP players will have the opportunity to show their talents in the NRL.