Shane Flanagan, St George Illawarra Dragons rebuild, Zac Lomax, Moses Suli, Kyle Flanagan, Round 2

Shane Flanagan has been praised for the massive turnaround with the Dragons who have gone from second last in 2023 to thrashing the Titans in Round 1 of their 2024 campaign.

Granted, it is only one game, but the turnaround in fitness and application has been notable through the trials and there was a significant improvement from most of the players in their 28-4 first-up win.

“New coach for the Dragons Shane Flanagan did a magnificent job in his first outing for the club,” Braith Anasta said on NRL 360.

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“I think they shocked everyone not so much with the win, but the way that they won.

“What a start. It shows the pre-season that they have had and already in a short period of time Shane Flanagan has had a huge impact.”

Paul Kent commended Flanagan for calling out his underperforming players to instil accountability back into the St George Illawarra club.

“He has put a lot of steel in them,” Kent said.

“Look they trained very hard over the off-season. There were a couple of reports coming out about how hard they did train.

“He has come out and the thing I like about Flanagan is earlier this year The Daily Telegraph ran a series of interviews with all the coaches.


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Ben Hunt and Shane Flanagan.Source: Getty Images

“And a lot of coaches were very generic in their assessments of their club and what they needed to do to improve as players.

“Shane Flanagan was very specific about why the Dragons were failing to perform in his eyes. What players were not aiming up. What players needed to really turn their game around.

“He named the players and he said what they were doing wrong and that just put accountability straight away through the joint and that is one of the important things in clubs.”

Gorden Tallis noted the massive weight loss in the team that shows how hard they have worked under Flanagan during the pre-season.

“He said his squad had lost over 120kg in the off-season, so that is how hard they trained,” Tallis said.

“That is without putting on the muscle, so I think there was 20 positive kilos there, but that means they have trained really hard.

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“And then the resilience they showed. I think there was about 40 tackles on their own try-line. The Titans didn’t play well. They didn’t attack well. But that is a totally different Dragons side to last year.”

“I tell you what it is a problem for the Titans, they had 25 completions and couldn’t bruise a grape,” Kent added.

Anasta noted that Flanagan has been able to get far greater results out of what is essentially the same squad as 2023.

“The thing that stands out to me, which I suppose puts Flanagan’s performance even higher is that they don’t have many new players,” Anasta said.

“The team is quite similar to what they have had in the past.”

Phil Rothfield pointed out Flanagan had missed a fair few targets in the player market, but the ones he has got and the players in the squad have all improved under his leadership.

“He got a lot of knock-backs,” Rothfield said.

Zac Lomax and Raymond Faitala-Mariner starred for the Dragons.Source: Getty Images

“He tried Addin Fonua-Blake and he tried a number of players.

“But I tell you who his did pick up was Raymond Faitala-Mariner from the Bulldogs.

“Did you see him on the right side on Saturday night? He destroyed them. All those offloads, tackle busts and linebreaks. I tend to think how has he done that with a player like that?”

Tallis agreed that most of the players in the team against the Titans had their best games for the club.

“Zac Lomax had his best game, I think Moses Suli had his best game and his son Kyle Flanagan actually looked like he belonged,” Tallis said.

“I think with the Dragons if you look at most of the squad it is the best game they have played in the red and white for a long time.”

However, Anasta warned the Dragons that it is only one game and they still have to show consistency over the course of a long season.

“It is only one Round,” Anasta said.

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“I don’t think it is going to be a one-off, but by me saying it is only Round 1 it still is Round 1.

“We don’t know how the Titans really are until they play a couple more games and it is going to unfold as we go on.

“You mentioned Zac Lomax. Where is he at? He played great on the weekend. Does he want to leave?”

“There is talk there,” Kent said.

“He doesn’t want to play wing that’s for sure,” Rothfield added.

“He made 255 metres and was arguably their best player.”

“He played great on the wing,” Anasta concluded.

The Dragons taker on the Dolphins in Redcliffe in Round 2 looking to cement their spot in the top four.

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