Long-time Dragons fan Matt Groat says he has experienced a step-up in intensity at St George Illawarra's pre-season training. Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
Former Wests Tigers prop Matt Groat says his new teammates have helped him through a tough pre-season as he looks to move past a 2013 ruined by injury.
The 21-year-old debuted for Wests Tigers in 2011 and played 17 games over two seasons before playing no part in the Tigers' 2013 campaign due to an ankle injury.
In his first pre-season in the Red V, Groat said the new playing group had bonded closely.
"It's a younger group. We've bonded really good, the boys are really ripping in and having a real good go," Groat said.
"Trent Merrin and Ben Creagh, they've helped me, Dan Hunt… they've really helped me through the tough training."
Of the pre-season training, Groat said it had been a big step up in terms of workload and intensity, but he wasn't taking anything for granted in terms of getting on the field for the start of the season with plenty of competition for spots.
"I'll hopefully get a game and slot in there somewhere, we'll see what happens. I'm just trying to concentrate on some pre-season and play well," he said. That may not mean Round 1 against the Tigers though: "Nah [I'm not expecting to play in Round 1]… let's hope, I'd love to play, we'll see what happens and I'll just try and do my best."
Groat will be one of a host of alumni from noted rugby league nursery, St Gregory's college Campbelltown, in the 2014 Dragons squad – along with the likes of Sam Williams, Jack De Belin and Jack Stockwell. He said it would be good to see both some former school mates and some fellow country boys in the squad.
"Yeah definitely, being from the country you get along with those country boys and they know what it's like to make that jump [to playing first grade in Sydney]," he said.