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Red V prodigies prepared to jostle for 2022 halves spot

Talatau Amone grew up partnering Jayden Sullivan in the halves but the Dragons prodigies are prepared to jostle for a starting berth alongside captain Ben Hunt in 2022.

The pair joined with fullback Tyrell Sloan to form an enterprising spine combination in last Saturday's 38-26 loss to North Queensland.

While Amone and Sullivan guided the Illawarra Steelers to the 2019 SG Ball (then under-18s) premiership from the scrumbase, the latter has played an unfamiliar dummy-half role for the past two rounds.

Sullivan's zip around the ruck has proven an asset but Amone is expecting the fellow 19-year-old to remain a halfback long-term.

"That's the first time seeing him play nine, the last two weeks. But he's a great number seven," Amone said on Wednesday.

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"He's grown up playing halfback, even five-eighth. If you see what he's done, he's a great halfback, a great halves partner.

"He and I play well together and we work off the back of each other, but we've just got to wait and see [in 2022], I guess.

"Even if we are fighting it out for that No.6, I'll just be happy to find my name on the team [sheet]. I just want to be working forward to playing as many games as I can next year."

Outgoing veteran Corey Norman has been Amone's offsider in his first couple of starting appearances with Hunt out due to a broken arm.

After being drip-fed 10 matches during the year, Amone is anticipating further improvement in the upcoming pre-season.

"Every game I get more comfortable and more comfortable, so I'm just trying to build off that," the playmaker said.

"I think I just need to get better on my decision-making. There were a few times in that game [against the Cowboys] that I should have done stuff that I didn't and I did stuff that I shouldn't have."

It was the first time that Sullivan, Amone and Sloan had started in the NRL together but their junior connection was evident.

Amone said he and Sloan shared a "secret game-plan" that led to him cleverly kick back on the inside for the custodian to score.

Sloan, who will play his fifth first-grade game against the Rabbitohs on Saturday night, is hopeful of shoring up his position.

"At the start of the year I didn't believe I would be where I was. It was always a goal, but to progress throughout the year and finally get a couple of starts in NRL, it's just pretty crazy," he said.

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"But whatever decision Hook [coach Anthony Griffin] makes next year with the No.1 jersey, I know it will be the right decision for the team.

"That's what we all want ... I've learnt a lot on and off the field. Mainly the off-field things, just trying to be a professional athlete, doing the right things each and every day.

"And I'm still a kid, I've got a lot to learn on and off the field as well, so I'm just trying to take in as much as I can.

"Being in this bubble-hub thing helps a lot. I'm around all the boys each and every day and they're taking me under their wing like they always have since pre-season."

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