Dragons winger Nene Macdonald has much to learn about St George Illawarra's rivalry with Cronulla ahead of derby

All together: Dragons winger Nene Macdonald helps lead the celebrations after a Jack de Belin try against Penrith in round one. Picture: Chris Lane

All together: Dragons winger Nene Macdonald helps lead the celebrations after a Jack de Belin try against Penrith in round one. Picture: Chris Lane

New St George Illawarra signing Nene Macdonald expects to be given a crash course in the history of the bitter rivalry between the Dragons and Cronulla ahead of the local derby on Sunday night.

Macdonald joined the Dragons from the Gold Coast in the off-season, adding pace, power and size to St George Illawarra’s backline.

The 193-centimetre winger admitted to not knowing much about the Dragons-Sharks rivalry but said his teammates – and coach – were sure to get him up to speed before running out at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

“I’m pretty excited. I haven’t played in a game like this with a local rivalry. I’ve watched (Dragons-Sharks) games before and both teams always turn it up,” Macdonald said.

“I don’t know too much about it so it’ll be a new experience for me but I know the boys and the coaching staff will be talking about it all week and explaining what it means to the club and the fans in this game.

“It will be like when I played my first game in the Charity Shield. The boys spoke about the rivalry and the importance of it.”

While they didn’t get the result they wanted in the Charity Shield, the below par performance helped strengthen the players’ bonds. The fierce criticism they faced helped motivate them towards their round one clash with Penrith, where they thrashed the early premiership favourites.

Best of enemies: Dragons captain Gareth Widdop (left) and Sharks skipper Paul Gallen on stage at the NRL season launch late last month. Picture: John Veage

Best of enemies: Dragons captain Gareth Widdop (left) and Sharks skipper Paul Gallen on stage at the NRL season launch late last month. Picture: John Veage

The 22-year-old has settled in well at this new club and paid tribute to Paul McGregor and his teammates for the way they have taken him in.

Macdonald is keen to repay them as quickly as possible – and is confident the Dragons are in for a big season.

“All the boys, we knew we had it in is. I guess we just needed to come together after the Charity Shield which was our first time playing together for lots of us. A few boys missed a lot of pre-season too so it was good to get everyone back together,” he said.

“We’ve had a lot of people writing us off but the boys just turned up [against Penrith]. It’s an exciting time for us because we think we can do something this year.”

Kick-off is at 6.30pm.

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