Dragons centre Taane Milne.

Twelve months ago St George Illawarra young gun Taane Milne would prepare for games by going out on the drink. 

Heading out for a night on the town was a regular thing for the now 21-year-old – even if it meant having to play less than 24 hours later.

The two-time Junior Kiwis representative confessed to NRL.com that he was in a bad place last year. Milne thought promotion to first grade would just happen for him at his former Roosters club.

The Clovelly Crocodiles junior said his three NRL games this season so far has reaffirmed the positives behind his move to the Dragons. 

"It was a big change to leave the Roosters and one that I think I really needed. I wasn't as professional as I am now I suppose. I just thought it was going to happen, by just cruising through the motions," Milne said.

"I found out pretty fast that you have to work hard to make the grade. There were a couple of times I was late to training and stuff like that while at the Roosters. Even through the 20s, I was going out on the night before games." 

 

 
The Brighton Le Sands local said a personal lift in professionalism has been the key to his good form in 2016.

While he lives an hour away from the Dragons' Wollongong base, Milne said carpooling with the likes of Kiti Glymin, Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell has helped him keep in line. 

The clean slate afforded to Milne by Dragons coach Paul McGregor hasn't gone astray either.

"If I didn't go through what I did at the Roosters I probably wouldn't be the person I am today," Milne said.

"My nutrition and all that sort of stuff now has really helped me this year. I was a bit overweight when I arrived here so when Mary (McGregor) told me to stay off the drink, I stayed off the drink. 

"He's been real supportive, Mary. He doesn't care about the past."

Milne has also earned a supporter in the form of veteran wing partner Jason Nightingale.

"Taane's really earned his position. He's worked really hard to get to where he is. How far he's come from the off-season to here and how well he's been playing for the Cutters has led to him demanding and getting his shot," Nightingale told NRL.com.

"I think he took it with two hands a few weeks ago and has backed up ever since. I'm really enjoying playing outside of him at the moment and seeing his growth week-to-week."

Milne's three games so far has seen him average 107 metres, two tackle breaks and a whopping four offloads per game.

His offloading prowess in particular is somewhat of an objective handed down from McGregor himself. 

"I have a license to offload so it's been pretty good the way I've been approached to play," Milne said. 

"The boys back me up to, I've made a few mistakes in fairness but they just pick me back up so it's alright."