With NRL trial matches now complete and the season proper on the horizon, Andrew Voss has highlighted one first-grade club he says is under the most pressure.
Despite admitting wins and losses aren’t the be all end all in practice matches, Voss believes St. George Illawarra’s performances thus far are cause for concern heading in to the 2021 season.
“Over the weekend all 16 clubs had their final practice match hit-outs, and one team is under more pressure than any other," Voss said on 1170 SEN Breakfast.
“That team is the Dragons.
“To quote Gus Gould on the approach to trial matches, he says. ‘They’re there to implement basics of your training and practice sessions, experience some real physicality, give new combinations a chance to experience real game intensity, give younger players a taste of NRL level and aim for no injuries and a competitive performance, nothing more’. How many of those boxes have the Dragons ticked in the pre-season?
“Personally, I’ve never looked greatly into the wins and loss columns from trials, but I do take note of defence and high scores conceded.”
Voss pointed to tries allowed and key personnel losses as warning signs that should worry Dragons fans.
“The Dragons competed in three trials, lost to the Sharks 36 to 28, lost to the Eels 28 to 6 and then on Saturday night they had a job done on them, 38 to 4 by half-time, then it ended 48 to 16. Grave concerns for the Dragons,” he added.
“They play their opening game on March 14, a Sunday night game against the Sharks. One positive is they don’t play any top four sides in the first four weeks.
“But they lost four out of their last five games last year.
“Their best player over the last two years Cameron McIness is gone with a knee injury, their star back rower Tyson Frizell has left the club.
“It’s an all new coaching staff, the Jack de Belin saga is still ongoing in the background, Corey Norman has his distractions, there is a new captain, the pressure is mounting.
“My prediction is, it’s going to be a very long winter for St. George Illawarra.”
Listen to the full verdict below.