Here is the best 17 of Dragons from the NRL era!
1. Darius Boyd 2009-11, 69 games, 13 tries
Following Wayne Bennett to the Dragons from Brisbane, Boyd shifted from the wing to fullback at the Dragons, and helped bring success to the club almost immediately. The Saints won the Minor Premiership in Boyd’s first two years, with Boyd turning in an outstanding season in 2010, winning the Dally M Fullback of the year and the Clive Churchill Medal in the 2010 GF triumph.
- Brett Morris 2006-14, 169 games, 112 tries
The speedster debuted in 2006, scoring 12 in 19 in his first season and went on to represent the Red V for almost a decade, winning a premiership like his father Steve did 30 years prior. Morris bagged an incredible 45 tries across the 2009 and 2010 seasons and notched up over a century of tries for the Dragons.
- Mark Gasnier 2000-08, 2010-11, 174 games, 92 tries
Blessed with pace, strength and an elusive step, Gasnier was a damaging centre for the Saints, who loved to skip on the outside of his defender before either backing himself or flick passing to his winger. An Australian Test International and NSW rep, Gasnier had a year out of the game in 2009 before returning in 2010 to win a premiership.
- Matt Cooper 2000-13, 243 games, 124 tries
The powerful centre debuted in the same year as Gasnier, forming an unstoppable centre combination for a decade. Cooper also represented Australia and NSW and played a role in the 2010 Premiership. Cooper scored an impressive 124 tries for the Red V, notching double figures in seven seasons.
- Nathan Blacklock 1999-04, 114 games, 100 tries
The blistering Tingha product was an electric winger for the Dragons, capable of a brilliant match-winning play when his side needed it. He held an impeccable try-scoring record, scoring 76 tries in 80 games in the joint venture’s first three seasons. He somehow never picked up an Origin jumper but he played 2 tests for Australia in 2001.
- Trent Barrett 1999-06, 154 games, 47 tries
Barrett joined the Dragons as a joint-venture as Illawarra was dissolved into the club, and he became one of the most crucial elements to the side for eight seasons. Barrett was an influential figure in 1999, unfortunately losing in the 1999 decider but he really stood out in 2000, despite the side missing finals, with Barrett scoring 9 tries and winning the Dally M Medal.
- Ben Hornby 2000-12, 273 games, 59 tries
Not the most technically gifted halfback in terms of playmaking, Hornby shifted from fullback to halfback in his career and it did wonders for him and his club. Known for his hearty performances and spirited attitude, Hornby’s running game, drive and laid-back approach was perfect for his 2010 premiership-winning combination with Jamie Soward.
- Luke Bailey 2000-06, 119 games, 7 tries
Like Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper, Luke Bailey debuted in 2000 in the same year as Jason Ryles who quickly became his partner in crime in the front row for a number of years. Bailey’s aggression, size and offloading ability was very effective for his side. Became a constant figure in NSW line-ups in his time at the Dragons.
- Dean Young 2003-12, 209 games, 20 tries
Son of another Red V legend, Craig who won two premierships in his playing days; Dean wasn’t like his front rower father, becoming a hooker/back-rower in his career. Young was the heart and soul of the club for 10 years, playing with utmost passion and determination with the latter being evident in the 2010 Grand Final as he scored a decisive try. Retired at just 29 due to consistent injury troubles.
- Jason Ryles 2000-08, 156 games, 13 tries
Ryles was a brutal front-rower who burst onto the scene in a breakout 2001 season after making a handful of bench appearances in 2000. Ryles earned his Test debut in 2001 following a full season, playing 27 matches. He cemented himself on the rep scene for the first half of the decade, with consistent performances for the Dragons gaining him recognition.
- Ben Creagh 2003-16, 270 games, 54 tries
The big and lanky red-head debuted on the wing in 2003 but he was quickly moved into the back-row, and built up an incredible career for himself in the forwards for the Dragons. He put on more size to properly fit the mould of a forward and his hard-work in attack and gritty defence gained plenty of fans with Creagh securing NSW selection for four consecutive years in 2009-12.
- Lance Thompson 1999-05, 132 games, 20 tries
The late Lance Thompson tragically lost his life a little over a year ago but he left behind a great rugby league legacy and a great legacy as a person as well. Thompson had a lot of admirers and people who respected him in the game and rightly so, with the back-rower always leaving nothing in the tank and leaving everything out on the field.
- Shaun Timmins 1999-06, 124 games, 27 tries
A really dynamic player for the Dragons, Timmins could play most positions for the Red V but it was actually in the centres where he played most of his first grade football, including the 1999 Grand Final. Timmins was a good defender and he moved into lock in the back half of his career after losing some pace but still possessing the body for the forwards.
- Jamie Soward 2007-13, 140 games, 39 tries
After starting with the Roosters, Soward struggled to break into their side, making the mid-season switch in 2007 to the Dragons. Soward’s kicking game, quick and elusive running game, and his quality goal-kicking made him the ultimate replacement for Trent Barrett, and he ended up playing a crucial role in the club’s first premiership.
- Trent Merrin 2009-15, 133 games, 12 tries
Merrin made an impact quickly into his NRL career, playing 23 games in his first full season in 2010, with his 26th career game being a premiership triumph from the bench. Merrin made over 130 games for the Red V while making his Origin debut in 2011 and his Australian debut in 2015. The nuggety forward was skilful despite his size, possessing a good offload and hit and spin technique.
- Tyson Frizell 2013-current, 145 games, 20 tries
Frizell joined the Dragons after just 12 games with the Sharks but they were soon regretful of letting him go after the form Frizell began to show over time with the Red V. Frizell’s defence, speed and tough running was a highlight in a poor 2016 season for the side, with the big forward getting Origin and Test jumpers and maintaining his place in the sides until current day.
17. Jason Nightingale 2007-18, 266 games, 110 tries
One of the most underrated wingers but also one of the most loved players in the modern era, Nightingale was a loyal servant for the Dragons for 12 years, with his double in the 2010 Grand Final iconically sealing the victory. Nightingale sits third for all time games for the Dragons and he also has the third most tries for the club.