Jack de Belin is hoping another mammoth pre-season will provide a similarly explosive start to St George Illawarra’s 2018 campaign – but potentially at the expense of trial form.
The Dragons take on South Sydney in their traditional Charity Shield fixture in Mudgee on Saturday night with St George Illawarra looking to win back the trophy that Souths have held since 2013.
St George Illawarra have undergone a tough pre-season regime, similar to the one they completed prior to 2017 when Nathan Pickworth took over from longtime performance head Tony Ayoub as head of performance and medical science.
The Dragons were slow out of the blocks in pre-season matches last season, including a sluggish showing in their 32-14 Charity Shield loss to Souths.
But de Belin told the Leader while better trial results were desirable, he was hopeful of a similar round one performance against Brisbane at Kogarah as they had last season.
“We did perform pretty poorly in our trials [last season],” he said.
“It wasn’t that good and everyone felt pretty flat and a bit sluggish but we’d had a massive pre-season. This one is the same as well. The bodies are getting to that point where we’re kind of over-training.
“Hopefully it has the same effect as it did last season where come round one we’re just ready to fire. As you could see we were at another level to Penrith [in round one] last year.”
It wasn’t that good and everyone felt pretty flat and a bit sluggish but we’d had a massive pre-season.Jack de Belin on the Dragons' 2017 pre-season form
The mood in the Dragons’ camp is optimistic as the club looks to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2015. A pair of high profile signings in James Graham and Ben Hunt has the squad upbeat with two weeks until the start of the season.
“The new boys are going well. James Graham is a great old head to have around. He’s a savvy veteran, he knows what needs to be done. He’s a great leader as well, I think he’ll be really good for us middle forwards,” de Belin said.
“And Ben Hunt he’s going to be great for us I think. A big signing, playing alongside Gareth Widdop and I think he’s going to have a big year.
“The mood is good. It’s pretty uplifting and upbeat. It’s time to start playing footy.”
Kick-off at the Glenn Willow Regional Sports Centre, Mudgee is at 7.30pm.