With Mark Gasnier set to rejoin the NRL, with a deal announcement expected before June 30 – will Gasnier still be a good fit for the Dragons? Or to put it another way, will the Dragons be a good fit for Gaz?
While CEO Peter Doubst is doing everything over at Kogarah to get Gasnier back into the fold, the truth is, much has changed at St George Illawarra since Gasnier left.
While Gaz has only been gone a year and a half, there have been a few personnel changes the likes of Jason Ryles, Justin Poore, Josh Morris and several others have departed – good mate and coach Nathan Brown is also long gone from the Dragons fold – in some ways its been a club rebuilt.
With new coach Wayne Bennett at the helm, the biggest change has been the culture. The belief is there and the responsibility isn’t falling on any one individual like it used to with Gaz or maybe Barrett in the old days.
This could work either way for Gasnier;
On a positive note – the newly forged Dragons are a defensive machine, winning the majority of their games and looking like good things for the NRL Premiership. They have a new seemingly much more positive culture and an enviable amount of depth in most positions. Much less pressure would fall on the shoulders of Gasnier as it used to do in previous years.
On the flipside – Gaz would have to earn his spot amongst hot competition. Younger, super confident backs in the form of Brett Morris, Jason Nightingale and Darius Boyd are all flying high. Any niggling injuries would surely see Gaz biding his team on the sidelines more quicker than in previous seasons. His good mate and former coach Nathan Brown is long gone and with Bennett at the helm it means that there wouldn’t be any selections favours for the former NSW centre.
What other options are available to Gasnier?
Some have suggested that the Newcastle Knights are the next option being considered by Gasnier and his management team. The Knights have room to move under the salary cap and would allow Gaz to escape the spotlight and pressure of Sydney to some extent.
However, at the Knights – Gasnier would instantly become a ‘marquee’ player and would get pressure in other forms. The location of Newcastle would either involve travel over long distances daily for training, or relocating to the the Steel Town – which wouldn’t be ideal given the sad family situation for Gaz and his partner’s father. Naturally they will want to be close to them in Sydney.
With the salary cap being so tight, apart from the Knights – there really doesn’t seem to be too many options open to Gaz at this stage. The Warriors do have a little room to move in their current situation, however moving over to NZ would certainly be out of the question for Gasnier.
The Raiders are another option, but again location proves a problem.
Most other clubs are seemingly up to their ears in salary cap quotas.
So it’s either his old club the Dragons with a whole new look and feel. Or the raw Knights, who may offer Gasnier the lower profile he has craved in recent times.
Given the pressing situation with his extended family, expect the Dragons to be favourites – regardless of the dollar figure in the short-term.