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Not content with his rapid rise from latent talent to State of Origin star, St George Illawarra prop Michael Weyman is on a mission to become the Dragons’ forward leader in 2010.

The hulking front-rower enjoyed his most consistent season to date last year after arriving from Canberra, but the loss of former team-mate Justin Poore to rivals Parramatta in the off-season is spurring him on to even greater heights this time around.

Having already starred in last Friday night’s season-opening win over the Eels and with another blockbuster against the Bulldogs looming on Friday, 25-year-old Weyman has told that he wants to become the man his fellow Dragons forwards look up to.

“I want to prove myself as a bit of a leader in the pack,” he said today. “Poorey was the top dog last year and he was a big loss for our club.

“Even though I’m older than him, he has the runs on the board so it’s up to me to step up and fill that void.

“As sad as it was to see him lead, it has opened up an opportunity for me as well.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys there and I’m hoping that if I can jump in there and do my bit then everyone else can ride on the back of that.”

Despite playing a huge role in St George Illawarra’s minor premiership last season, Weyman said he expected even more from himself in 2010.

“There are certainly a lot of things in my game I want to improve on,” he said.

“If you’re not improving you’re getting worse, so that’s a big thing for me this year.

“But in the meantime I’ll take each game as it comes and try not to get ahead of myself.

“I really just want to get out there and continue to enjoy my footy like I did on Friday night.”

Weyman certainly doesn’t need any motivation to start the new year with a bang.

While the Dragons were particularly impressive in disposing of Parramatta last week, they face one of the toughest tasks of any club over the opening rounds with this week’s Bulldogs clash followed by North Queensland, Melbourne and Brisbane.

It looms as a huge personal challenge for the 115kg front-rower although his performance against the Eels – 24 tackles and 17-hit-ups for 145 metres – suggests another big year ahead.

“We trained hard for it,” Weyman said. “Everyone is really good mates at our club and we work hard together – that’s the best thing about our club.

“In terms of what we’re doing on the field this year, not too much has changed.

“We’ve just wanted to improve on the things we did last year and I think we all did that last week.”

Asked if a return to the State of Origin arena in 2010 was already on his mind, Weyman said “Not really. I haven’t thought that far ahead.

“It worked for me last year to just take it week by week and I’m doing exactly the same this year.

“It’s something we’re very conscious of as a club – we’re only worried about preparing for this week, playing the game and going through the review and after that we’ll move on to the next one.

“Obviously I’d love to be there because the experience is unreal but I’ll just take each week as it comes and go from there.”

Key to an Origin recall will be fitness. Weyman endured six injury-plagued seasons with Canberra before seeking a fresh start with the Dragons in 2009, but the move paying healthy dividends as he went on to record a career-best haul of 22 appearances with his new club.

And having originally signed a two-year deal under master coach Wayne Bennett, Weyman was rewarded earlier this week with a new three-year deal that will see him stay in the red and white until the end of 2013.

“I love it here in Wollongong and the club is in a good place at the moment too,” he said. “I think it just comes down to enjoyment.

“If you’re enjoying your footy you can’t wait for the weekend to come so you can get out there and play.

“If you enjoy going to training each day it makes life so much better.

“I’ve settled right in to Wollongong life and it was great to get another three years here.

“I’m really looking forward to it.”
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