Dean Young ideal fit for Dragons captain

Dean Young DragonsFormer Steeler and Dragons player Rod Wishart has earmarked current Dragons forward Dean Young as the man to lead the new look club for 2009.

While injury would be the main challenger to Young; should the talented forward remain healthy – he would be an ideal choice for new coach Wayne Bennett.

Bennett apparently is considering Young along with other experienced players Matt Cooper, Ben Hornby and Ben Creagh – to take over the role left open by the departed Mark Gasnier in 2008.

“He’s a player who will never shirk any work,” Wishart said.

“It’s his work ethic, he’s tough, he leads by example and when the going gets tough he leads the way.

“Bennett’s a guy who commands respect.

“And as a captain, Dean already has the respect of the players.”

“He showed his leadership ability at an early age and I think he can certainly still develop as a captain if he was given the role.”

A versatile player who can switch between lock and hooker or five-eighth, Young has battled knee problems in recent seasons and faces major challenges for a starting position from Dragons recruits Luke Priddis and Jeremy Smith.

“The competition for spots might just spur (Young) on,” Wishart, who played 17 Tests for Australia and 22 State of Origin games for NSW, said.

“He has had a couple of injuries, but he might be back to his best this year and I like the way he plays.”

While Cooper will remain in his favoured left centre position and Creagh is likely to retain a place in the second row, Hornby’s role is also up in the air this year as he recovers from shoulder surgery.

Having made his name at fullback, Hornby played virtually the entire season at halfback under Nathan Brown last year.

Former St George Illawarra assistant coach David Barnhill, meantime, said it was hard to split the captaincy credentials of Cooper, Hornby and Young.

However, Barnhill, an Origin second-rower with NSW, leaned towards Hornby because of his previous experience leading the Dragons.

Hornby has taken the captaincy role in recent seasons when Gasnier or former prop Jason Ryles was injured.

“Hornby’s probably not getting as many mentions for the job as the others, but he’s got the experience,” he said.

“When Rylesy or Gaz has been out in the past he’s been the one to step up, so I’m sure he’d do a great job.”

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