Dragons coach Steve Price is adamant he has everything he needs in his playing roster to be a force in the NRL next year.
Dragons coach Steve Price.
The club has chased a number of playing targets in recent months, most notably Cooper Cronk, Michael Jennings and 2011 UK Super League man of steel Rangi Chase.
However, in each case St George Illawarra have failed to land the key signings, leaving a number of questions over player combinations for next year following the retirement of captain Ben Hornby and lock Dean Young.
Unveiling new signings Gerard Beale and Tyson Frizell as they returned to pre-season training yesterday, Price declared the Dragons should not be underestimated, despite missing out on the 2012 finals series.
“I’m really comfortable with the playing roster at the moment,” Price said.
“We’ve got Jamie Soward, Nathan Fien and Kyle Stanley in the halves and Josh Drinkwater from Manly in NYC.
“And we’ve got a great hooker in Mitch Rein and Cameron King is going to be putting pressure on him also.
“I’m very happy with the playing roster we’ve got.”
Price admits attack will be his top priority after scoring the least amount of points of any team in the competition this year.
But in the wake of Hornby’s and Young’s exit, as well as the departure of Beau Scott to Newcastle, it presents an opportunity for Price to find new ways to damage his opponents on the scoreboard.
“There’s definitely a need to improve our offence,” he said.
“We’re certainly aware of that, but there’s certain structures we’re going to be applying ourself in the pre-season. It’s going to be very basic, but, come the first trial, everyone is going to be fully aware of what’s expected of them.”
Price said he had no pre-conceived plans about who will replace Hornby in the No 7 jersey.
A section of the Dragons’ hierarchy has discussed the prospect of using the cash available in their salary cap to chase Queensland and Australia playmaker Johnathan Thurston next year.
They are also monitoring Craig Bellamy’s situation at Melbourne, but, after taking over from Wayne Bennett last year, Price said he was more comfortable in the Dragons’ hot seat the second time around.
“There’s always high expectations of our footy club and I expected nothing less,” he said.
“I have high expectations of myself, but, in saying that, I feel like I’m a lot more confident in my second year and I’m just looking forward to getting this pre-season right.”
Stanley is on the comeback trail from injury, but Price claimed the versatile young playmaker was on track to be available for their trial games in February.
Price said he was close to making a decision who will replace Hornby as captain, with second-rower Ben Creagh a likely candidate.
“I haven’t made a set call on who will be captain within our footy club,” Price said.
“There’s a number of candidates there and I’ll make that call in the next couple of weeks and go from there.
“Benny Creagh has been outstanding, he’s been in our leadership group for a number of years now and Nathan Fien and also Matty Cooper. So I’ll make that decision over the next couple of weeks and go from there.”
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