St George Illawarra Dragons release Nene Macdonald to join North Queensland Cowboys for 2019

St George Illawarra have released Nene Macdonald from the final year of his contract with the Dragons, with the winger to join North Queensland for the 2019 season.

The Dragons allowed Macdonald, who is from Cairns, to head to Townsville on compassionate grounds to be closer to family having played 46 games for St George Illawarra since arriving in 2017.

Dragons director of rugby league pathways Ian Millward said Macdonald, who has signed with the Cowboys for three years, had been a fine servant to the club over the past two seasons and wished him well for the future.

“Nene has been an important player over the last two seasons at our club and although he has one year left on his contract, his management and himself approached the club on compassionate reasons for a release,” Millward said.

“We thought it was in the best interests welfare-wise for Nene to grant him the release, so unfortunately he won't be with us in 2019.”

Meanwhile, the Dragons have announced the signings of a trio of outside backs.

Fiji World Cup representative Mikaele Ravalawa joins St George Illawarra from Canberra, where he was the Raiders’ under-20s player of the year in 2017, on a two-year deal

Jonus Pearson has signed from Brisbane, where he made his NRL debut in 2016, for two seasons.

While Australian Schoolboys representative Jason Saab has been rewarded for his fine performances with St George’s SG Ball side with a four-year contract.

Saab will join the development player squad for the next two years before the NSW under-18s representative joins the 30-man NRL squad for the 2021 campaign.

Millward said the Dragons were still looking for another outside back to join their new trio for 2019.

"We are still on the lookout but we want to be patient once again. We don't feel at the moment what we're looking for is currently out there," Millward said.

"We have certain criterias that we're looking at and we don't want to compromise ourselves by signing someone just to make up the numbers.

"We're really excited about the players we're bringing in, keeping in mind that Zac Lomax is an outstanding prospect, but we're still on the lookout for one more player."

The Dragons have also signed Korbin Sims, brother of Tariq, from Brisbane for next season.