It’s been a lean few seasons for Dragons fans, who have had to endure some strange decisions on and off the field.
I doubt any diehard fan or casual fan for that matter will miss Corey Norman, while the signing of the likes of Aaron Woods, Jack Gosiewski and Tautau Moga leaves a lot to be desired.
However, the emergence of a crop of promising young juniors, led by Jayden Sullivan, points to a brighter future for the Dragons, who haven’t played finals football since 2018.
Joining Sullivan are the Feagai twins, Max and Mat, who have impressed in limited opportunities, Junior Amone, who dazzled at the back end of 2021, and Tyrell Sloan, who burst into the NRL last season, scoring an impressive six tries in just five games.
With Norman’s absence and with Adam Clune at the Newcastle Knights, the time is perfect for either Sullivan or Amone to establish a spot in the NRL alongside skipper Ben Hunt.
Sullivan recently inked a new three-year deal and possesses speed, agility and confidence, which hasn’t been seen in a Dragons playmaker in some time.
Amone impressed in the centres last year but is unlikely to remain there, with Zac Lomax on the right and new recruit Moses Suli forming the likely centre pairing.
He will most likely battle new recruit Moses Mbye for the utility role off the bench. No disrespect to Mbye, but Amone offers more.
The Feagai twins are highly rated and have both come through the Dragons’ pathways system and need to be given more opportunities in order to showcase their obvious talents.
Max may find it tough to break into first grade but should be next cab off the rank if either Lomax or Suli go down, while Mat should be selected on the flank ahead of the enigmatic Cody Ramsay.
Sloan’s stunning rise and the ease with which he transitioned into an NRL fullback must have the Dragons’ hierarchy salivating at their prospects.
Matt Dufty was great in attack but was very poor defensively and was reluctant to put his body on the line.
Combined with his poor positional play, which didn’t improve over five seasons, he left the club little choice. The Dragons have definitely traded up by letting Dufty go and promoting Sloan.
Only 17 players can be picked each week, plus one reserve for concussion protocols.
But if Anthony Griffin bloods these players from Round 1, they will develop nicely throughout the season and give Dragons fans reason to believe a return to September football is not too far away.