PREPARATIONS for the St George Illawarra Dragons' 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership campaign officially kicked off this week, ushering in a new era for the famed Red V.
While a mixed run in the back end of the 2018 season led to an inspired run to the semi-finals, the Dragons will look to go a few steps further in their upcoming tilt for premiership glory.
Fijian international Korbin Sims, from Gerringong, headlines a host of new faces, which also include exciting prospects Mikaele Ravalawa, Jonus Pearson, Lachlan Timm, Jason Saab and Eddie Blacker.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor hailed the exciting times ahead for the club.
"There is plenty to look forward to in 2019, and pre-season is the beginning of something better for the Dragons," McGregor said.
"Going through the experiences of 2018 have made us far more resilient.
“We will be strengthened by the adversity we faced throughout the past season.
"With the young talent we have coming through, it provides an optimistic outlook for the upcoming season and beyond."
Dragons head of athletic performance Nathan Pickworth will once again ensure the current 34-man squad, which also contains Korbin’s brother Tariq Sims and Jackson Ford [both Gerringong products] as well as Shellharbour’s Jai Field, are at optimal fitness come round one in March.
"I'd be lying if I said we weren't shooting for higher honours in 2019,” Pickworth said.
“We've identified key areas in which we can advance in and have implemented key strategies to improve the performance of the team,"
"Plenty of boys are a lot fitter, faster, stronger and powerful than they were 12 months ago which is great.
“But it would be naive of us to rest on our laurels, so no doubt we're looking to improve."