Dragons forward Tariq Sims has lauded Corey Norman's "inspirational" attitude at training and said the five-eighth has the club's full backing after his recent off-field incident.
Requiring a big year to earn a contract for 2022, Norman has impressed his teammates during the pre-season.
He and ex-NRL player James Segeyaro were involved in an altercation with a group of men in Cronulla last Friday.
The matter is being investigated by the NRL Integrity Unit, but Sims said Norman's focus on football hasn't wavered.
"The way he's training and going about his business has been pretty inspirational, to be honest," Sims said on Friday.
"Obviously he's dealing with a little bit off-field … and there's so much pressure on halves in general, but he's a pro.
"Not only Corey, but James as well [has our support]; there's absolutely no excuse for what has been accused of being said.
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"James as well, even though he's not part of our club, he's been involved in the NRL for many, many years and he's got the support of the Dragons. Corey knows that, I'm sure James knows that. Corey's definitely got the support of our coaching staff and our team."
St George Illawarra trained in driving rain at the University of Wollongong on Friday morning but Sims's enthusiasm for their approaching campaign was far from dampened.
The second-rower played just nine matches last year, with two suspensions and a wrist injury keeping him on the sidelines much longer than he wanted.
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Sims has long been the enforcer of the Dragons pack, and though he intends to continue bringing aggression, the 30-year-old acknowledged he may have to tweak his approach to suit the times.
"As the game evolves and adapts, I've got to do the same thing. Whether it be I've got to pull back on the reins on some tackles and go full tilt into some. I still see myself as setting that bar as high as I possibly can; I want to be that person for our team," Sims said.
"We've definitely got players who have come into our squad and that are part of our squad that can help me on that journey."
Sims described himself as "getting a bit long in the tooth in footy years"; one reason he is hellbent on playing finals again.
Winning back a NSW jersey is another motivator, but Sims is "under no illusions" as to why he wasn't picked in Brad Fittler's defeated Blues team in November given his form.
"It's definitely lit the fuse and makes me even more determined to first of all start playing great footy for the Dragons and hopefully that rep stuff can look after itself," he said.
Despite his veteran status, Sims believes his cardio level is "probably where it's never been" and his body is holding up well.
While there is a sense of optimism around St George Illawarra under new coach Anthony Griffin, the future of off-contract captain Cameron McInnes is yet to be worked out.
"Cam's a pro. He's a very professional person. We love him as a teammate, as a squad member and as a person as well," Sims said.
"He's a straight shooter, he's an honest man and that's the sort of bloke you want around you and that you want involved in your club ... Hopefully we can lock him up but it's up to the club."