St George Illawarra 2012 season preview

After plenty of upheaval in the close season how will the 2010 premiership winners perform in 2012?

Midway through last season the Dragons looked near invincible before a run of five straight defeats saw them slip down the ladder.

St George’s loss in form was in part due to uncertainty over which players would join coach Wayne Bennett as he headed to the Knights.

Eventually Darius Boyd, Adam Cuthbertson and the promising Alex McKinnon departed with Bennett while Dragons favourite Mark Gasnier retired.

Those departures, coupled with a rookie coach in Steve Price, leave St George as something of an unknown quantity this year.

The Dragons still boast one of the more impressive squads in the competition and can call on a settled halves combo while there is plenty of young talent to get excited about.

Assuming the team adapt quickly to life under Price then there is every reason to expect St George to mount a strong finals bid once again.

Prediction: 5th

Players in: Chase Stanley (Storm), Will Matthews (Titans), Daniel Vidot, Josh Miller (Both Raiders), Leeson Ah Mau (Cowboys), Ray Cashmere (Salford) and Jeremy Latimore (Warriors)

Players out: Darius Boyd, Adam Cuthbertson, Alex McKinnon (All Knights), Jon Green (Sharks), Peni Tagive, Jack Bosden (Roosters) and Mark Gasnier (Retired)

Coach: Steve Price

Star man: Matt Cooper – Not always given the credit he deserves, Cooper is one of the top centre’s in the game and, as one of most experienced members of the Dragon squad, will have an even more important role in 2012.

Breakthrough year: Kyle Stanley – Prodigious talent in whom the Dragons have plenty of faith, will be given first shot at replacing Darius Boyd at fullback and expect him to seize it with both hands.

Young gun: Cameron King – Exceptional young hooker who was sadly injured in the 2011 World Club Challenge at Wigan. Now fully fit and ready to form a dangerous partnership with another exciting rake in Mitch Rein.

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