Committed to Dragons, Nene keen to extend stay

Committed to Dragons, Nene keen to extend stay

Papua New Guinean international Nene Macdonald's allegiance are with St George Illawarra for next season and indicated he wants to remain at the club beyond 2019.

Macdonald, who was born in Port Moresby and raised in Cairns, had been linked with a return to North Queensland to join the Cowboys but the 24-year-old said he did not want to leave the Dragons.

After previous stints with Sydney Roosters and Gold Coast Titans, Macdonald has been enjoying his best season in the Telstra Premiership and said he was settled at St George Illawarra.

Off contract at the end of next season, Macdonald suggested he was now keen to negotiate an extension with the Dragons.

"I really want to stay here and it looks like I will be staying a bit longer so we will just see what happens," Macdonald told NRL.com.

"I have still got next year here anyway and I have built a good relationship here - a real good base. I like it here, the boys are really close and I am really enjoying being at the Dragons."

With New Zealand international Jason Nightingale announcing his retirement last week, the Dragons would be reluctant to let Macdonald go as they could have brought Brett Morris home from Canterbury if they had expected to be in the market for wingers.

Corey Oates and Jarryd Hayne are the biggest name options on the NRL transfer market but neither consider themselves to be a specialist winger.

St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor and director of pathways and list management Ian Millward have high hopes for 18-year-old Zac Lomax, who this week re-signed until the end of the 2020 season, but his preference is to play in the centres.

Jordan Pereira has been playing on the wing for the past four matches after Macdonald suffered a foot injury in the round 18 loss to Wests Tigers and his return in last weekend's 40-4 defeat by Parramatta coincided with Nightingale succumbing to a neck injury.

"It was pretty tough to come back into that game and lose like that," Macdonald said. "I think we are a lot better team than what we showed on the field that day but I think Parra really played well. I am surprised they didn't have this at the start of the year.

"They have got a good team on paper so they should have been performing like this for a while but I think they will finish the year strong and have a good year next year."

Despite five losses in their last six matches, Macdonald is confident the Dragons can turn around their season in the coming weeks and build some momentum for the finals.

"The boys at the start of the year were just unstoppable and I think we just need to find that form again and we will finish the year strong," he said. "I think if we all step up can do something awesome."

After switching to the left wing this season, Macdonald has scored nine tries in 18 appearances playing outside Gareth Widdop and he admitted the Dragons would miss the English playmaker after he disclocated his shoulder against the Eels.

"With Benny Hunt here this year we have got two good halves whereas last year Gaz was doing most of the work," Macdonald said.

"Gaz is very good at eyeing out his winger and knowing when to hit him at good times, and I am just doing my best to finish for him. He is such a great leader and he is also in a key position so it will be tough without him but you can't really control injuries and we have to accept it."