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Maddie Studdon celebrates a try for NSW.

St George Illawarra Dragons coach Daniel Lacey believes new recruit Maddie Studdon is the key to the side's success in 2019 and is confident she'll handle the pressure of living up to the tag.

Lacey singled out Studdon when asked who had him impressed him most and after the club were dubbed pre-season favourites following an aggressive recruitment campaign.

Studdon, who endured a difficult experience at the Roosters last year, has bounced back into form this season, winning a National Championships title in June and earning player of the match honours for NSW at North Sydney Oval.

"She's been the one player that I don't think I could do this without her," Lacey told

"I've learnt as the year has gone on how important she is to me and a team. I liken her to the impact of what Honey Hireme did for us last year on and off the field. She keeps everyone calm and their goals on track.

"She's had a great year, if she can pull the same out in the NRLW we could see her on the big international stage at the end of the year maybe."

Studdon slices through for the Blues

Studdon has openly spoken of her challenges at the Roosters last season after coming off the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

She was left out of the Jillaroos squad for an end-of-season Test match after playing two games for the Tricolours before being dropped.

"You don't know if she put unreasonable pressure on her or whether they did," Lacey said.

"That's in the past now and players go through that, for a lot of these women it's a new experience for them and something Maddie had to overcome. I just hope we get to reap the rewards of her being back on track and wanting to excel."

Studdon now finds herself in a similar position with an expectation on the Dragons to reach the grand final this season based on the squad assembled.

It was a similar notion to the Roosters before a ball was kicked in 2018, and they struggled to live up to expectation.

She told she held no mental scars and looked forward to working under Lacey, starting on Sunday against the Broncos at Bankwest Stadium.

"We can have the best team on paper but we can't get too far ahead of ourselves," Studdon said.

"We haven't even played a game together and don't know how we're going to go. The other three teams have key players in their squads who have played together longer.

"No one are favourites in my book, we're all at an elite level now and it's anyone's competition to win."

Dragons v Broncos: NRLW Round 1

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