INS: Nene Macdonald (Titans), Cameron McInnes (Rabbitohs), Josh Kerr (Storm), Paul Vaughan (Raiders)
OUTS: Mike Cooper (Warrington), Ben Creagh (Retired), Adam Quinlan (not re-signed), Benji Marshall (Broncos), Mitch Rein (Panthers), Dylan Farrell (Retired), Tom Carr (Bulldogs)
The headline for 2017- “There’s Something About Mary”
On the surface, the Dragons enter 2017 with a squad almost exactly as talented as they were in 2016. That won’t be great news for Dragons fans who really suffered at times last season watching their side splutter around the field failing to show any real attacking flair. With halfback Ben Hunt already signed for 2018, we can expect a spending spree for the Red V, and to land the biggest names they will need a big coach. If he doesn’t win big and early, expect Paul MacGregor’s job to be on the line.
Let’s be honest, the 2016 Dragons were close to the worst attacking unit in the league. A side with the likes of Josh Dugan, Jason Nightingale, Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall struggled to string passes together at times, let alone score tries.
The good news for Dragons fans is that Ben Hunt should solve many of those issues. The bad news is they will have to suffer through this season before he arrives. And it might be a very painful season at that.
Former Raider Paul Vaughan headlines a list of signings which are actually quite good and potentially very underrated. Vaughan is a potential Origin standard player, Nene Macdonald is a walk-up starter, and Cameron McInnes has the potential to cement a first grade position. They all look quite shrewd and fill out many positions nicely.
But there’s just something about the Dragons. Despite looking like a handy side man-for-man, the club has just seemed a little off since the departure of Wayne Bennett. The just don’t seem to click as a unit and seem to be a team of misfits who have been rejected from their previous clubs. They are all talented, but why are they here?
This won’t be helped by the fact someone will be keeping the number seven jumper warm for the season until the arrival of Hunt. The job is likely to be handed to veteran Josh McCrone, who can fill the role, but isn’t a game breaker.
A major restructure in how they play aside, there doesn’t look a lot of improvement in the Dragons for 2017. There’s every chance they will provide some nuisance value throughout the season, but you can’t help but feel the eyes are more on next season.