They have been a notably quiet NRL club during the 2007/2008 Rugby League off-season. A proud club that has misfired poorly in recent years, will the centenary of Rugby League be their season to go all the way in NRL 2008?
The man at the helm of the St George Illawarra Dragons, Nathan Brown seems so have certainly copped his share of criticism – however the former Dragons hooker has done well to hang in there, at a time when coaches are hung out to dry so quickly.
The burning question for every NRL fan has been why have the Dragons continued to fail with virtually an Australian Rugby League Representative Team at their disposal? The likes of Trent Barrett, Matt Head, Brett Firman all now lost to the once unstoppable club. Looking further back, even the likes of Paul McGregor, Rod Wishart and Brad McKay had the talent but never got the goodies come end of season NRL.
Is it the pressure of being one of the most heavily followed NRL clubs? Even before the Saints merged with the Steelers, the Dragons boasted the biggest club memberships and a huge following amongst NRL faithful. Their merchandise out sold everyone else, ever since they won 11 premierships straight in the good old days they have had an army of fans and that has continued the thrive. Does this huge following create more expectation? Coupled with the fact that the Red Vee hasn’t won the major prize in over 25 years?
Personally, I think the creativity and player talent at the Dragons disposal has been the root of the problem over the past 15 years. Having so many talented players might be thought the only ingredient to win at the highest level of NRL, however the old saying “Too many cooks, spoil the broth” rings true.
Just like NSW Origin problems in previous years, having so many talented players running their own plays, going solo and most of the time not following coaches instructions can wreak havoc on the best of sides.
Too many times the Dragons get into top gear during an NRL game, then sign off and start coasting. Other times they simply turn up and some of the players tend to rely on the superstars to get them home. A big no-no.
And more recently, injury has been a disaster for this Rugby League club. Possibly the best player in the world on his day, Mark Gasnier unfortunately seems to get injured when he trips over a blade of grass and former Australian forward Jason Ryles gets injured and rarely plays to his ability that can be oh so damaging when he puts his mind to it.
Certainly its time the Dragons deserved some luck with injury and they will be hard to stop in NRL 2008 featuring the likes of: Dean Young, Matt Cooper, Ben Creagh, Jason Ryles and of course Gaz – however another of the old sayings keeps ringing in my ears and that is “Give me enthusiasm over talent anyday of the week” and maybe that is the key to the Dragons taking the title in NRL 2008.