The off-season changes have continued at St George Illawarra with the club announcing the resignation of recruitment manager David Warwick.
Warwick replaced Peter Mulholland, who left the Dragons to join Canberra, at the end of the 2015 season but will leave the club after one season to take up the role of head of recruitment with the Wests Tigers.
Most of St George Illawarra’s promising young players have already re-signed with the club on long-term contracts, with the Dragons in the process of finding Warwick’s successor.
The Dragons’ director of rugby league pathways Ian Millward thanked Warwick and moved to assure fans through the club’s website that the loss would not affect their plans.
“We are very sad to see Dave depart the Dragons but he has been given a great opportunity which will see him take on more responsibility while also being closer to home,” he said.
“He has done great work in his present role contributing towards the identification of many local juniors within our catchment area and recruiting them to our junior representative program.
“His departure however will not affect the processes already in place regarding the recruitment and retention of first grade players here at the club and he goes with our sincere thanks and best wishes.”
Captain Gareth Widdop and Australian and NSW representative Josh Dugan are the club’s two biggest names off-contract at the end of the season. The pair returned to training last week after the Four Nations.
His departure however will not affect the processes already in place regarding the recruitment and retention of first-grade players.
As well as Warwick, there will be more transition on the field with a number of high profile departures including Benji Marshall (Broncos), Ben Creagh (retirement), Mike Cooper (Warrington), Mitch Rein (Panthers), Dylan Farrell (retirement), Sebastine Ikahihifo (Huddersfield), Tom Carr (Bulldogs), Dunamis Lui (Raiders) and Adam Quinlan (Hull KR).
The club have signed prop Paul Vaughan (Raiders), Nene Macdonald (Titans) and hooker Cameron McInnes (Rabbitohs) as well as Josh Kerr (Storm) and Shaun Nona (Illawarra Cutters).
St George Illawarra open their season with the Auckland Nines on February 4 and 5 before a trial against the Wests Tigers in Wollongong on February 11.
The Dragons face South Sydney in the traditional Charity Shield at ANZ Stadium on February 19 before they host Penrith in their season opener at Kogarah on March 4.
Warwick said his decision came after a lot of thought and with some remorse.
“I have been offered an opportunity to further my career overseeing recruitment at Wests Tigers and it was a role I could not knock back.”