Corey Norman has backed St George Illawarra’s decision to invest in talented playmakers Jayden Sullivan and Talatau Amone - even if it has left him without a contract for next season.
Dragons coach Anthony Griffin advised Norman last week that Sullivan and Amone were the future of the club and he would be joining fullback Matt Dufty on the transfer market.
The former Queensland Origin representative admitted after Sunday’s 28-6 loss to Canterbury that he was disappointed by the news but said he could understand Griffin’s decision as Sullivan and Amone were "special" talents.
"The club and Hook have gone with that direction and I can totally understand that," Norman said.
"That’s football and we have got two young kids coming through, and it is good to see.
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"Obviously, we are seeing Junior [Amone] getting drip-fed [into first grade] and when Bud [Sullivan] can stay injury-free we will probably see him getting a run too."
Amone, who debuted earlier this season on the same weekend he starred for the Illawarra Steelers in the SG Ball grand final, received 10 minutes from the interchange in his fifth NRL match against the Bulldogs, while Sullivan has been sidelined for most of 2021 with a hamstring injury.
The pair were the halves in the Steelers team which won the 2019 SG Ball grand final and also included the Feagai twins, Max and Mat, and promising fullback Tyrell Sloan.
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"We have got two young kids here who are pretty special so I was getting that feeling anyway," Norman said of Griffin’s decision. "It is halfway through the year now and nothing had really popped up yet.
"If that is the direction they want to go in I will just cop it on the chin and enjoy the rest of the year with the boys and the coaching staff, and see what happens from there."
The 30-year-old five-eighth said he was open to playing anywhere next season to continue his career.
"If we are going well at the back end of the year it will sort itself out," he said. "Hopefully we don’t toss up any more games like that.
"We are all disappointed and we all know we didn’t put in what we need to today. We are just all embarrassed."
Griffin said he notified Norman of the club's decision last week, just a fortnight after the Dragons told Dufty he wasn't in their plans for next season.
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Dufty and Norman were below their best in the 22-point defeat at Stadium Australia but Griffin added the uncertainty around their futures shouldn't affect their efforts this season.
"We had to make a decision on Corey and gave it a lot of thought," Griffin said.
"We've got some good young halves coming through. He understood and we move forward.
"Every [decision] is a hard one. [Matt] Dufty was a hard decision to make. He's played for this club his whole life, [but] it's what we think is the best interests for the club moving forward.
"To build a list that can bring us sustained success. They're not easy decisions. That's just up to the person themselves when you tell them [as to how they respond on the field].
"I don't think see any problem with it. It's business and people are signing contracts and going from one to another. It happens every week."
The Dragons were coming off an 11-day turnaround from their big win over the Broncos in round 13 but had no answers against a Bulldogs side who showed urgency throughout the contest.
A 41 per cent possession rate didn't help the Dragons' cause but the side weren't willing to roll up their sleeves and match Canterbury's intensity.