Tuesday 23 January 2018 / 01:22 AM


Following his side’s dominant showing against the Warriors in Round 11, St George Illawarra Dragons back-rower Joel Thompson has declared there’s no pack he’d rather be part of.

The ‘Red V’ forwards were at their destructive best in the 30-14 victory in Hamilton last Friday, helping their side to run for 2039 metres and force the Warriors to miss 57 tackles.

No team made more yardage than the Dragons last week, but their pack showed more than just grunt with the ball, providing many of the side’s 20 offloads, while both Thompson and interchange forward Hame Sele made line breaks.

“I’d have my pack over any pack in the comp,” Thompson said.

“I love the boys there, I love their aggression, I love everything about them, they are awesome.”

Every member of the St George Illawarra pack, bar hooker Cameron McInnes and Sele, averages over 100 metres per game this year, with their big men playing a considerable role in lifting the side to sit fifth on the ladder after 11 matches.

Off-season recruit Paul Vaughan has led the way, averaging 15 carries, 157 metres and 29 tackles so far in 2017.

Vaughan – widely regarded as the unluckiest omission from NSW’s Game 1 line-up – echoed Thompson’s thoughts, singling out lock Jack de Belin, a member of the Blues’ extended squad, for praise.

“The boys here just love playing with each other, and you can really see that out on the field, everyone works for each other whether it be in defence or attack,” Vaughan said.

“The aggression the other night against the Warriors was second to none.

“Jack de Belin is playing out of his skin, I have played against him for a number years and have always admired how he played.”

Meanwhile, Sele, who was rewarded for a strong start to his NRL career with selection in the City Origin side earlier this month, said his team had relished the opportunity to play outside of New South Wales for the first time in over a year.

“It was different, it was our first time on a plane for the year. The boys enjoyed it, we built on our bond together and it was nice to come to NZ,” Sele said.

“Hanging out with all the boys was really fun, they all took me under their wing.”

[YouTube – NRL 2017]

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Corey Rosser

One of CBS’s newest contributors, Te Aroha product Corey is the New Zealand correspondent for NRL.com, the editor for the excellent new site Kiwi League Central, and a guru of the local Auckland rugby league scene.

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