NRL Rd 1 - Dragons v Sharks
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 14: Dragons head coach Anthony Griffin speaks to the media during the round one NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Cronulla Sharks at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, on March 14, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

It has been all doom and gloom in the recruitment and retention department for the St George Illawarra Dragons, but the reported snaring of Alec Tuitavake and Viliame Fifita could be about to turn that around.

Dragons' fans have been left aghast at coach Anthony Griffin and his recruitment team's strategies in recent seasons.

2023 saw the arrival of Zane Musgrove, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Nick Lui-Toso out of the QLD Cup, as well as Jacob Liddle from the Wests Tigers in what was the bright spot for the Red V during the off-season.

Liddle's first effort at the club was excellent, but questions still linger around a forward pack which has not kept up with the modern game.

News Corp are reporting the Dragons are on the verge of putting a significant dent in that argument though, with Tuitavake and Fifita, who are both rising stars and expected to have big NRL careers, set to make the switch to the joint venture.

Both are part of the Sea Eagles' top 30 and could have made their NRL debuts this season on the Northern Beaches, with Fifita, in particular, impressing during the pre-season trials.

The deals may not be quite that easy though, with Manly CEO Tony Mestrov telling the publication the releases haven't been agreed to, and that the Dragons may need to give up players in return.

“There has been no release at this stage,” Mestrov said.

“At this stage it will go before our retention committee. “His manager has put it in writing but we have a big game against Parramatta to think about.

“It will not destabilise us and we certainly won't be just handing them over for nothing.”

The reported double signing for the Dragons, even with Manly's denouncement of such a move at this stage, has also added to the speculation that Aaron Woods could be released.

Woods was re-signed for 2023 on a club option after playing enough games to automatically trigger it last year, however, his increasing media work and limited role at the Dragons, where he missed their opening game of the season against the Gold Coast Titans, could see him opt out of the remainder of the season in the Red V.

His experience has often been praised around the club by coach Griffin and other players alike, however, Woods appears on Triple M Radio regularly among other media commitments, and could be looking at his career after playing rather than seeing out the year in the NSW Cup, with it appearing that Woods is well down the pecking order for the joint venture.