Griffin, who will oversee the club’s return to training on November 17, wants to focus on developing the youth in the St. George Illawarra catchment area but plans to replace test strikers Tyson Frizell and James Graham next season.
Josh McGuire, Joe Ofahengaue and Jack Bird are among the players linked to the Dragons, and Griffin said that behind the scenes negotiations are taking place with rival clubs that he hoped will bring some new recruits in before the end of the year Wollongong would arrive.
“It’s great to see Josh Kerr making a start in Origin. It’s good for his confidence, but we’d also like to bring some seasoned people into the club to replace what’s gone, “said Griffin.
“Then it’s about supporting our youth and building them up from within.
“We have some great full-backs – young people like Cody Ramsey and of course Zac Lomax who is on the Origin side right now – so there will be a bit of a focus on building from the inside, but in the short term we want to.” Bringing a couple of seasoned strikers into the pack. ”
The Dragons will celebrate the 100th anniversary of St. George’s entry into the Premier League in 1921 next season, and Griffin said he wanted to reach the finals to commemorate the centenary.
“I think we have a list capable of doing this, so we’re not here to rebuild or ask for time,” Griffin said at the start of the centenary plans at the St. George Leagues Club.
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“We have to perform from day one and that is my responsibility and the players from the time we get together.”
Ben Hunt will be tasked with running the team and Griffin said he is now one of the NRL’s most seasoned playmakers after Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and James Maloney left in recent seasons.
Lomax, Ramsey, full-backs Matt Dufty, full-backs Max and Mat Feagai, Lock Jackson Ford and prop Blake Lawrie are young talents with room for improvement, he added.
“Something that really excites me here is building something that will last, something that will take resilience and something that will be home grown as much as possible,” said Griffin.
“There will always have to be strategic recruitment, but for this club and this brand, I think it’s important that we try to build up as much as possible from within.
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“I think we’re starting to see this with Ramsey, the Feagai twins and Ford and people like Dufty and Lomax who are already established and Lawrie.
“At the top end, I think Ben Hunt is a real playmaker in the game who can take the team to the highest levels.
“Cronk is gone, Thurston is gone, Maloney is gone … there are a lot of good playmakers out there, so it’s time for people like Ben and Cherry-Evans to be the leading playmakers in the competition. I think Ben has the potential to do that. ”
Meanwhile, Griffin said as he listened to former Prime Minister John Howard talk about his lifelong support for the Dragons, he realized the importance of the club’s history and the responsibilities he had taken on as coach.
The 100th birthday celebration was attended by many former players, including John Riley, Craig Young, Steve Edge, Ricky Walford, Brad Mackay, Mark Gasnier, Ben Creagh, Ben Hornby, Dean Young and Jason Nightingale.
The main features of the 100th anniversary in 2021 include:
- A centenary book by respected author and kite historian Geoff Armstrong;
- Four newcomers to be included in the “Legend’s Walk” in Kogarah;
- A museum to open in the St. George Leagues Club;
- Naming the kite team of the century.
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