A newer team overall given the joint venture but the St George Illawarra Dragons have still seen quality players.
A premiership under Wayne Bennett, some good seasons but also some bad seasons, the road has not been easy for the the Dragons.
But where there are hard times, there are good times.
So here are our picks for the greatest St George Illawarra Dragons players ever:
Ben Hornby – Proved his utility value early on but it was his work at custodian put him on the map. Later moved to halfback.
2. Jason Nightingale – A quality finisher for the Dragons, the man nicknamed ‘Flossy’ or ‘Gypsy’ loved a good try. He ran hard and quickly became a fan favourite.
3. Matt Cooper – A hard-running and gifted centre, Cooper had the looks to match his on-field play. His ability was on show for all to see and he was there through the good and bad.
4. Mark Gasnier – Playing alongside Cooper for years, Gasnier was the yin to Cooper’s yang. Physically imposing and strong, Gasnier quickly cemented his spot as an elite centre in the game.
5. Nathan Blacklock – The man from Tingha. He set try-scoring records, scored tries for fun, and all of it made Blacklock an electrifying winger. One of the best of his time.
6. Jamie Soward – A crafty player, Soward was always on the lookout for a defensive weakness to exploit either with a darting run or a classy kick.
7. Trent Barrett – A gifted player, even from a young age, people knew Barrett would shine at the Dragons. A deft kicking game, a solid passing game, Barrett often stood out.
8. Jason Ryles – 2001 is when Ryles came into his own as a player and he did not look back. He ran with heart and passion, and put the defence on notice.
9. Mark Riddell – The man they called Piggy. If he wasn’t winning fans over with his larrikin ways, it was his unique goal-kicking style. It gave him cult status and the fans would mimic him as he took goals.
10. Chris Leikvoll – Just a hard worker, a tenacious player and one that would bust his backside in attack and defence every week.
11. Ben Creagh – Started out as a centre/winger but made the move to back-row. A consistent performer, Creagh was a long-term mainstay of the Dragons side.
12. Lance Thompson – One of the hardest workers on the footy field, his consistency was lauded by many fans and he quickly became a favourite.
13. Dean Young – Every team needs a guy like Dean Young. He was the Dragons heart and soul. Not flashy but he didn’t need to be; he was ever-present, always giving 100%.
14. Trent Merrin – Some of Merrin’s best years of rugby league have come at the Dragons. A hard-running, mobile forward, Merrin was known for his offloading ability.
15. Shaun Timmins – Just 17 when he debuted, it was evident Timmins had talent. Became a Dragons mainstay at centre but dabbled in the back-row as well, among other positions.
16. Brett Morris – Speed, strength, and skill, Brett Morris had it all. For years, he’s been an elite winger and he was a prolific try-scorer for the Dragons.
17. Dan Hunt – A surprise? Perhaps, but he worked hard, helped lay a platform and put the Dragons in good positions with consistent forward play.
The Melbourne Storm took to AAMI Park looking to break a rare losing streak and secure equal first place while Parramatta Eels were looking to continue a rare winning streak and avoid the wooden spoon.
The game went much more in the way of the home side as they rattled the bottom ladder team to secure a 20-4 win despite an injury to captain Cameron Smith.
Melbourne were out to prove their dominance early in the game with 4 repeat sets forcing Parramatta to defend strong early on.
Will Chambers finally broke the Parramatta defense after beating George Jennings for the retrieval of a floating kick to score Melbourne’s first points.
The two teams fought hard for the remainder of the half, however, Parramatta’s lack of discipline secured a handy 10-point lead for the Storm with Smith kicking two penalty goals.
With 10 minutes to go in the half, Cameron Smith left the field with a back injury after an awkward tackle from Parramatta enforcer Nathan Brown.
The injury was deemed severe enough to keep Smith out for the remainder of the game and cement concern amongst the fans.
Parramatta came out firing in the second half, however, Melbourne’s defensive pressure managed to hold them out despite multiple repeat sets.
The visitors were granted a prime opportunity when Cameron Munster was sin binned, although they were unable to capitalise on this advantage.
With a player in the bin and their captain in the sheds, the Storm dug deep and found their next points through Nelson Asofa-Solomona who steamrolled over multiple Eels defenders to get the ball down.
Parramatta’s lack of composure and defensive pressure from the Storm kept them scoreless and obviously rattled.
The Storm strengthened their lead with a try to Curtis Scott who took on a tired, disheartened Parramatta defensive line.
The home team were unable to keep the boys in blue and gold pointless however with Clinton Gutherson showing incredible acrobatic skills to put a Brad Takairangi ball down in the corner.
A late no try to Mitchell Moses kept Parramatta’s final tally at 4 and the Melbourne Storm equal first.
Eels coach Brad Arthur did not mince words. A lack of execution is what cost his side.
“We created some opportunities that we didn’t take – you can’t do that against close to the top side in the competition,” he said.
“We were our own worst enemy.
“We needed more patience at the try line.
“We don’t need to score off every play.
We needed to be more patient and build some pressure on the try line.”
The big talking point will be the Cameron Smith injury, though there was some positive news with it, for it could just be back spasms.
“Cameron [Smith] just had a spasm in joints in his back which he’s had before,” Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.
“I don’t know if there will be X-rays or anti-inflammatories.
I don’t think it’s anything too serious but how serious is, I don’t know, especially with backs.”
Trent Robinson came into action for the Sydney Roosters 5 years ago in 2013. Since then, each season seems to have gone along the same path – aside from the 2016 season which many are still scratching their heads over.
In his debut season as coach for the tri coloured boys from Bondi, Robinson found himself with the minor premiership crown.
This accomplishment however, came very unexpected for many particularly the South Sydney Rabbitohs. This was a season in which the Rabbitohs dominated for a large portion of the season. They enjoyed a glorious 12 weeks on top of the ladder before the Roosters took over at the tail end of the season. From there, the most entertaining cat and mouse chase came alive as the two fought for the minor premiership. Eventually, with an incredibly point differential of +315 the Roosters were crowned minor premiers.
Four weeks later, they were holding the trophy high and mighty in front of a sold out ANZ stadium. Not a bad start for the new boy in town.
2014 came along and fans were feeling déjà vu.
The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles were sitting nice and pretty on the top of the ladder for 10 weeks from round 15 onwards. They had one week where the Panthers took over due to point differential but the moment passed very quickly and the Sea Eagles enjoyed 8 weeks on top of the ladder looking like sure minor premiers.
They lost in round 26. The Roosters did not.
By point differential, the Roosters took home the minor premiership and finished the season in the preliminary finals after falling short to the Rabbitohs who went on to win the whole thing.
2015. Same deal.
The Brisbane Broncos led the competition for 11 weeks, until round 24 when the Roosters took over and won the minor premiership.
2016 is the dark year for Coach Robinson. A year that he definitely does not want to remember and would very happily bury it dead. Let’s call this year the exception to the rule.
2017 was dominated by the Melbourne Storm in every single way. They seemed to have won the premiership back in round 3 however, the Sydney Roosters still gave them a good run for their money. Recovering from a year from hell, Robinson kicked his team into action however the trend still followed. The run home didn’t fully take place until the tail end of the season.
Whether it’s the impact that State of Origin has on the competition or something else, I don’t know. History does not lie however.
Under the guidance of Trent Robinson, the Sydney Roosters have not been a long running, dominating team in the NRL.
They are not a poor team by any means.
They are a team however, that peaks late. They peak when it well and truly matters.
Can history repeat itself this year? With the way Cooper Cronk, James Tedesco, Luke Keary, Latrell Mitchell, Victor Radley etc etc are firing? Yes. It definitely can.
Reflecting on the past 5 years I find it incredibly fitting that the Sydney Roosters have an extremely high chance of winning the minor premiership and the NRL premiership come September.