Dragons seek consistency against patchy Bulldogs

Jacob Shteyman |

Luciano Leilua returns to the Dragons’ bench after a month on the sidelines with a calf injury.
Luciano Leilua returns to the Dragons’ bench after a month on the sidelines with a calf injury.

Shane Flanagan hopes the return of Luciano Leilua to St George Illawarra’s forward pack will spell an end to the Dragons’ choppy start to the NRL season.

The ninth-placed Saints have tasted highs and lows in their five wins and five losses, swinging between a humbling 60-18 loss to the Roosters and a comfortable 28-14 win over South Sydney last time out.

But after a fortuitously timed bye week, coach Flanagan hopes his refreshed players will find a new level of consistency away to Canterbury on Thursday.

“We had enough time to review that game against South Sydney and assess what was good,” he said. 

Coach Shane Flanagan.
Coach Shane Flanagan wants the Dragons to find some consistency for the rest of the season. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

“We need to recognise what we’re doing well and what we’re not doing so well. 

“We have been inconsistent, but this group is new together, I’m new to the group. We’d like to think that, with all the learnings we’re getting along the way, we are getting more consistent as time goes on.”

Leilua returns to the Dragons’ bench after a month on the sidelines with a calf injury and will add some much-needed drive to the back row.

“It’s the first time that we can actually select from our best bunch of forwards,” Flanagan said.

“We’ll get better. (It’s Leilua’s) first game back, so he’s not going to be at his best tomorrow night, but we definitely need him. He gives us strike out there on the edge, and every week that he plays we’ll be a better football team.”

The equally inconsistent Bulldogs will be eager to respond with a strong performance of their own after throwing away a lead against an 11-man Canberra side in Magic Round.

Canterbury are still yet to lose at home, but despite promising performances have won just four from 10.

“They’ve been playing really well and competing really hard, so we need to be on our game if we are going to win tomorrow night,” Flanagan said.

Second-rower Jaeman Salmon returns to the Bulldogs’ starting line-up after suffering a leg infection.

Canterbury on Wednesday bolstered their forward ranks for 2025 with the signing of former Souths prop Tom Amone from Super League side Leigh Leopards.

“He has been the best front-row forward in the UK for the past two years and he will certainly be a boost to our forward stocks,” said Bulldogs general manager of football Gus Gould.

AAP