Tyson Frizell excited for new role as St George Illawarra Dragons eye taking the next step

Focused: St George Illawarra forward Tyson Frizell is determined for the Dragons to compete for the NRL title again during the 2019 season. Picture: Chris Lane
Focused: St George Illawarra forward Tyson Frizell is determined for the Dragons to compete for the NRL title again during the 2019 season. Picture: Chris Lane

Tyson Frizell believes St George Illawarra have what it takes to finally take the next step.

The Dragons have showed plenty of promise over the last two seasons. They have dominated much of the early regular season to set the pace to become the benchmark.

But in 2017 and 2018, St George Illawarra suffered alarming fade outs which cut their campaigns short when they had promised so much more.

And Frizell is adamant 2019 is going to be different.

The 27-year-old has developed into one of the game's premiere back-rowers. A colossus on the right edge, Frizell has been a model of consistency.

He often plays carrying injuries and regularly sets the standard for St George Illawarra's fearsome forward pack.

Frizell has endured a slow start to pre-season. After being given some extra time off, he tore a calf just before the Christmas break which he sees as a blessing. The injury allowed him to ease his way into training and has him feeling as healthy and refreshed as he can remember.

There will again be plenty of expectation around the Dragons given the signing of Corey Norman from Parramatta to partner star halfback Ben Hunt. 

And while Jack de Belin's court case and Gareth Widdop's impending release have been distractions over the summer, Frizell told the Leader the Dragons had everything necessary to finally take the next step - and compete in the first week of October.

"I think we've had a couple of years now where we've been competitive and haven't been as consistent as we wanted to towards the back end of the year," he said. 

"But I think last year was a good step forward for us, even though we had a little bump kind of in the back end of the year, we peaked again [after that]. Through injury and a couple of other things we weren't able to go the whole way.

"I believe with the group of players we do have, we've had that core collective there for a while now. We're not putting any pressure on ourselves, we know the potential we have as a team and where we want to go.

"We're going to be doing our best every week and everything we can to see ourselves get as far as possible. We all have our vision to get there at the end and win the premiership. But every team is in the same boat, we're no different and we'll be doing everything we can to be as consistent as we can throughout the year."

We're going to be doing our best every week and everything we can to see ourselves get as far as possible. We all have our vision to get there at the end and win the premiership.

Tyson Frizell

With State of Origin forward de Belin's pending unavailability at lock, it has forced Dragons coach Paul McGregor to shift his star back-rower Frizell into the middle of the field.

It is not an unfamiliar role for Frizell and one he is looking forward to. His move will also give young forwards Jacob Host and Luciano Leilua the opportunity to claim the right edge.

"I've done it in the past in some stages throughout the years and some of my representative honours I've played in the middle a little bit. It's something I'm looking forward to," he said. 

"I've obviously never started the year off there. Depending on how things go I might find myself there a bit more often than in the back row. With Korbin [Sims] missing the first two games it's somewhere I'll definitely be playing for those two games. But past that I'm not too sure.

"I guess it depends on how things work out with the team, how we're playing collectively will probably ultimately see where I go and where I fit in best. It's a new challenge. It's not too unfamiliar for myself playing there but I am looking forward to it."

"We hope [those young players will step up]. They've been coming through the ranks at the Dragons for a while now. They're local juniors. They've been in and out of first grade for probably two or three years now.

"Hopefully individually they're looking for a starting spot or a spot in that 17 consistently this year. For their sake and my sake I hope they can thrive in that role. There's an opportunity for those guys there to make it their own this season or definitely for the first two rounds.

"They both might get an opportunity either on the bench or starting in the back row, they've both had great off-seasons and pre-seasons so [I'm] looking forward to what they can produce and hopefully they can be a great asset for us as a team."

As for Frizell he is more focused on helping the Dragons have a successful season than earning individual honours.

Last season's finals run has given Frizell the taste for the big club games he has always craved and he is determined to experience more of them in the red V.

"My main focus this year, obviously every player wants to be playing rep footy or individually playing as best as possible. But for me it's to do as well as possible so our team can get as far as possible," he said. 

"I love playing finals footy and last year I got two games of finals footy and it was the most I'd ever got, previously it was only one finals game. Literally [my goal is] to see how far we can go.

"We've got a good side, we know what we can do as a team. If you asked [me to choose] to go the whole way with the Dragons or rep footy you'd go the Dragons easy. Obviously I want to be playing my best for our team to do as well as possible.

"Hopefully that happens and if I'm doing that I'm sure rep honours will come."

Comments