They won the premiership in 2010, and you would expect would have continued their fortune, good-will and celebrations until the middle of January, but this wasn’t the case.

The Dragons are already back at pre-season training, the first team to do so after the Christmas break, and they were put through their paces for 90 minutes with a strenuous running session starting at 7:30 am yesterday.

Whilst both the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm also got their pre-season training kick-started later on in the day, it was the Dragons who started the earliest.

“We got into it right away, we do speed on Mondays. It’s the same program we have done for the past couple of years,” St George Illawarra skipper Ben Hornby said.

“There wasn’t much talk going on for the first couple of minutes but once we got back into it it all felt comfortable again.”

After working on their speed the Dragons players headed off to the gym for a weights session.

“The first week is always pretty tough, once you get through that it is usually a little bit easier,” Hornby said.

Training this early means that the players go through a 9-month period working their butts off in both training and games to reach the ultimate goal, a grand final win.

“It is a long way away, you can’t get caught up thinking about that,” Hornby said.

“And once the games start coming it goes pretty quickly.”

The Dragons, who were only given a week and a half off over the Christmas breaks relaxed, spent time with their families, and recovered from the 2010 season, before pumping themselves up for a new year in 2011.

“I gave myself a bit of a rest, just had a couple of sessions, nothing really strenuous,” he said.

“You know when you go back to training it is going to be hard.”

The Dragons aren’t taking the competition lightly though, as they know that they now have a new challenge in front of them, given grand finalists often poor form the following year of late.

“A lot of times teams that had good years can struggle the next year so we’ve really got to make sure that doesn’t happen to us,” Hornby said.

That very point has been raised by both Hornby and Dragons coach Wayne Bennett as the players look to play as well as they can over the course of the season.

“It is there for everyone to see if you look at some of the sides, and not just our sport,” Hornby said.

“That’s not something we go on about, it is something we are aware of.”

The Charity Shield against the South Sydney Rabbitohs will be the Dragons first pre-season hit-out, due to be played on February 13, with their World Club Cup Challenge match against the Wigan Warriors to be played on the February 27.

“The next four weeks is just about getting yourself physically and mentally ready for the year,” Hornby said.

By ricky

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