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Can Shane Flanagan's new 'magnificent seven' bring hope to downtrodden Dragons fans?

Roar Guru
14th February, 2024
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Roar Guru
14th February, 2024
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The recent signing of former Manly winger Christian Tuipulotu brings the Dragons 2024 recruitment drive to an end, and they’ve now filled all 30 of their squad positions.

We all know recruitment at the Dragons has been a fraught and haphazard exercise over recent years, with the likes of George Burgess, Zane Musgrave, Josh McGuire, Moses Mbye and Billy Burns all joining the big red V for reasons known only to former coach Anthony Griffin.

Happily for Dragons fans they’ve all now departed, so who are this year’s recruits, and what value will they add to the squad?

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 06: Dragons assistant coach Shane Flanagan looks on before the start of the round 17 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the St George Illawarra Dragons at QCB Stadium on September 06, 2020 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

St George Illawarra coach Shane Flanagan and his squad are trying to better last year’s 16th place finish. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Corey Allan

Allan is a talented outside back who has the skills to cover fullback, wing and centre. Still only 25, Allan played origin for QLD back in 2020 before making the biggest error in his career when he joined Trent Barrett’s Bulldogs the following year. He bounced back to form with the Roosters in the latter part of 2023 and looked to be a very good utility signing by the Dragons before a training injury put an early end to his 2024 season. Allan has only been signed for the current year so it will be interesting to see whether the Dragons extend his contract.

2024 value proposition: Zero – due to injury.

Tom Eisenhuth

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A big and mobile backrower, Eisenhuth made his first-grade debut for Penrith way back in 2012, but his career didn’t really begin in earnest until he joined the Storm seven years later, where he became a very reliable bench player, a role no doubt coach Shane Flanagan has in mind for him with the Dragons. There’s nothing flashy about Eisenhuth, just the ability to do the hard work required of anyone who’s been in Craig Bellamy’s system for the last five years. Eisenhuth is 32 this year and will be keen to show what he’s got if he wants to stay with the Dragons in 2025.

2024 value proposition: 5/10 – he won’t let anyone down, but he’s not going to win them many games on his own.

Raymond Faitala-Mariner

Faitala-Mariner’s career could have been anything but for some untimely injuries, and that’s the big question hanging over his head with the Dragons. Injuries limited him to just 102 games across 8 seasons with the Bulldogs, and both he and new Dragons coach Flanagan will be hoping for better luck this year. He’s a very big man, and at his best, is a very destructive ball runner with a good offload, playing either in the middle or on the edge. He’s also a good style of person, and perhaps his timely escape from Stalag Belmore will bring out the best in him. RFM turn 31 this year and has been signed by the Dragons until the end of 2025.

2024 value proposition: 5/10 – time will tell, but if he remains injury-free he could become the leader of the pack.

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Kyle Flanagan

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 16: Kyle Flanagan of the Bulldogs handles the ball during a Canterbury Bulldogs NRL training session at Belmore Sports Ground on March 16, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Kyle Flanagan is now with the Dragons, his fourth NRL club in seven seasons. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Flanagan was going to be the next big thing when he joined the Roosters back in 2020 but things didn’t quite go to plan, so he moved to the Bulldogs under Trent Barrett where, like so many others, his career stagnated. Saints’ fans were initially somewhat surprised when his father signed him, but now it’s very much a case of “thank God you’re here”, as the Dragons halves depth is weaker than ever. Flanagan is a good organiser, a tough competitor and a very good goal kicker, and playing alongside Ben Hunt, and with the expected freedom to play his natural game under his biggest fan in father Shane, he could finally realise his potential.

2024 value proposition: 6/10 – he has the best chance in his career to date to show what he can do.

Jesse Marschke

At 26 and yet to make his first-grade debut, Marschke was clearly a depth signing for the Dragons’ bare halves cupboard. He’s performed well for Norths in the Knock-On Effect Cup last season but that’s about all we know of his footballing abilities. One thing I do like about him though is the fact that he sorted out his sister’s ex-boyfriend for sharing intimate images of her online.

2024 value proposition: 2/10 – the jury’s out until we actually see him take the field in first grade.

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Hame Sele

Sele debuted for the Dragons way back in 2017 and returns to the club after stints with both Penrith and Souths, having established himself last year as one of the Rabbitohs’ best forwards.

He’s a no-nonsense type of player who revels in the mid-field battle and he’ll certainly add some much-needed starch to the Dragons’ front row rotation. Aged just 27, he’s been signed until the end of 2026.

2024 value proposition: 7/10 – a solid performer who looks to be the pick of the Dragons’ new recruits.

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Christian Tuipulotu

Just turning 23, Tuipulotu is a solid first grader who runs the ball hard and knows the way to the try line, and he just might find himself playing outside fellow Tongan international in Moses Suli on the Dragons’ left wing. He has the size and pace to do some damage in attack provided he can recapture his best form of 2022.

2024 value proposition: 4/10 – a handy winger but he’s no certainty to play first grade.

So, there they are, the Dragons magnificent seven recruits for 2024. How do you think they’ll go?

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