New Dragons coach Anthony Griffin plans to work on ways to take better advantage of the six-again rule during pre-season training.
Griffin took charge of training at WIN Stadium for the first time on Tuesday with assistant coaches Peter Gentle and Matthew Elliott as the Dragons became one of the first teams to commence preparations for 2021.
Canterbury, South Sydney, Wests Tigers and the Warriors are also back in training, while Manly players return on Thursday.
Brisbane, Cronulla, Gold Coast, Newcastle and North Queensland start pre-season work next week.
For most clubs, including the Rabbitohs and Tigers, it will be a gradual build, with younger players starting now, the main group returning over coming weeks and Origin stars back in January.
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"It was excellent," Griffin said of his first day with the Dragons players. "I met the full squad on the Wednesday after they broke the bubble but it was good to kick it off and get started."
Like most coaches in charge of a new team, Griffin will focus heavily on defence. The Dragons conceded an average of 22.6 points per match last season and 23.4 points per match in 2019.
However, there will also be changes in attack, with Ben Hunt likely to revert to halfback after spending more time in the hooking roles this year.
"I want to imprint our game philosophy and the way we want to play both in attack and defence," Griffin said.
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"There will be an emphasis on tackle technique at the ruck and how we move together as a group.
"Attack-wise there are some experienced players here in [Ben] Hunt, [Corey] Norman and [Cameron] McInnes. Adam Clune had a break-out season and young Jayden Sullivan got his debut so there is a chance to work with those playmakers and put some stuff in place before next year."
With the six-again rule announced only weeks before the resumption of the Telstra Premiership on May 28, teams had to figure it out on the fly. Griffin has had the opportunity to sit back and analyse what it has done to the game.
The Dragons only scored eight tries after receiving a six-again call in the 18 rounds it was used, a stat Griffin plans on improving.
"There are obviously some tweaks you are going to have to make defensively because you are more than often going to be defending for a longer time," he said.
"If you have to make eight or nine tackles in a row and you lose the ruck two or three times in that period things will be put in place to counteract that now.
There will be an emphasis on tackle technique at the ruck and how we move together as a groupNew Dragons coach Anthony Griffin
"In offense, it probably gives you more opportunity to play over the advantage line, so on both sides of the ball we have had a really good look at that over the last month since the coaching staff have been together and we will have some things to put in place to try and grab an advantage with that."
New recruit Poasa Fa’amausili was in attendance for the first training session under Griffin but star signing Jack Bird is continuing rehabilitation for the knee injured that sidelined him for the entire 2020 season.
Hunt, McInnes and fellow State of Origin suqad members Zac Lomax and Josh Kerr will take leave after the series.
As well as his proven performers, Griffin is excited about the opportunity to work with the emerging talent in the Dragons ranks.
"I got a chance to see all the young guys who are coming through – Cody Ramsey, the Feagais [Mat and Max], Jayden Sullivan, Eddie Blacker and a couple of academy guys who trained really well like Tyrell Sloan, who played under 18s last year and was a standout," Griffin said.
When your club returns to training:
- Warriors: November 16
- Bulldogs: November 16
- Rabbitohs: November 16
- Wests Tigers: November 16
- Dragons: November 17
- Sea Eagles: November 19
- Broncos: November 23
- Cowboys: November 23
- Titans: November 23
- Sharks: November 25
- Knights: November 26
- Eels: November 30
- Roosters: November 30
- Raiders: December 7
- Panthers: December 14
- Storm: January 4