Like most young players today, Kyle Stanley is reluctant to talk contracts before he has even established his place in the NRL. Yet the classy Dragons rookie is well aware of the intriguing sequence of events that Wayne Bennett’s impending departure promises to set into motion in the coming months.
One of three key St George Illawarra backs yet to be signed for 2012 – alongside Matt Cooper and Darius Boyd – Stanley’s future remains the most clouded as he battles to cement his spot in the top 17.
Despite impressing in seven NRL appearances last season and scoring a clever try in last Sunday’s 25-12 win over the Warriors in New Zealand, the 20-year-old faces the unfortunate scenario of having little room to move with Jamie Soward locked into his preferred five-eighth role and Cooper and Mark Gasnier the club’s long-term centre pairing.
The likelihood is that Stanley’s future will be determined by his team-mates, with Cooper hoping to sign one last contract at the club he has spent the past 12 seasons.
Boyd has expressed a desire to follow Wayne Bennett wherever he may end up next season – probably back at Brisbane – but were he to stay it could well be Stanley heading north instead in search of Darren Lockyer’s vacant No.6 jersey.
The highly rated youngster credits Bennett for much of his progress over the past 12 months and admits his departure will be a huge loss for the Dragons.
This season, Stanley says, is all about taking his opportunities. And although it is unlikely that he will be spending too much time in the halves, his versatility has already proved beneficial with his two games in 2011 so far coming in the absence of injured hooker Dean Young.