Looking to 2012: St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons will see a huge turnover of players in 2012, signalling the start of a new era post-Wayne Bennett.
They have signed nine new players but not due to a lack of faith in the current playing group, 15 of whom have been re-signed.
The big in: Tim Moltzen – Disputed contract negotiations with the Tigers are still ongoing but if Tim Moltzen is to find himself in a red V next year then he is a ready-made replacement for Darius Boyd in the fullback jersey.
Moltzen has great acceleration and ball-playing ability for a fullback, not to mention a safe pair of hands under the high ball.
The big out: Darius Boyd – There’s no hiding the fact that losing the Queensland winger is a loss for the club.
Boyd was instrumental in the premiership of 2010 and his scything runs from the back and the way he injects himself into the backline will be hard for anyone to replicate.
The young gun: Jack De Belin – Cast in the mould of a no-nonsense forward, complete with bandage and black electrical tape, De Belin is the 2011 Toyota Cup Player of the Year and deserves his shot at first grade.
The big question: Can Steve Price step into Wayne Bennett's shoes?
The veteran: Matt Cooper – Going into his twelfth year of first grade in 2012 ‘Coops’ comes off one of his best ever years in 2011.
The big centre was on fire, scoring 14 tries and making 19 line breaks to lead the club in both areas.
He even knocked back rep footy to help the team out. Cooper is a leader for the boys on and off the park and 2012 gives him another opportunity to chase another premiership at the club.
The wild card: Jamie Soward – If there is one man that can turn a game with a sudden burst of pace, it’s Soward. Derided by sections of the media in the past for his defence, Soward proved in 2012 that he was indeed up to representative level.
Soward has the explosiveness and short kicking game to change a game for the club and despite being targeted often in defence always has a great influence on the Dragons’ attack.
The top squad: Moltzen, Morris, C Stanley, Cooper, Nightingale, Soward, Hornby, Hunt, Fien, Weyman, Scott, Creagh, Young: Cuthbertson, Merrin, Prior, K Stanley
Ins: Chase Stanley, Will Matthews, Jeremy Latimore, Tim Moltzen, Leeson Ah Mau, Daniel Vidot, Josh Miller, Atelea Vea
Outs: Darius Boyd, Jack Bosden, Jon Green, Mark Gasnier, Peni Tagive, Alex McKinnon, Jon Green