Similarly, to the Newcastle Knights, the St George Illawarra Dragons were left in the lurch after the departure of legendary coach Wayne Bennett and experienced some seriously lean years, having to contend with an aging and overpaid roster.

However, off the back of a major recruitment and retention overhaul led by club legend and now head coach Paul ‘Mary’ McGregor and Director of list management Ian Milward, the Dragons have assembled a roster stocked full of representative talent.

While the squad the Red V currently have at their disposal is impressive, this came about as a result of a large-scale revamp in Wollongong, with more than a few favourite sons of the club forced out the door.

Here are the top 10 players the Dragons have let go, not re-signed or released since 2000.

The players have been listed in accordance with the contribution they made whilst at the Dragons as well as considering the influence they have had at the clubs they left the Dragons for.

Honourable mentions: Brett Morris, Luke Bailey, Trent Merrin, Jamie Soward, Trent Barrett

9. Luke Patten

While Luke Patten was widely known amongst NRL fans for his legendary 10-year, 225 game stint in the blue and white of Canterbury-Bankstown, he actually came through the ranks at the Illawarra Steelers before joining the St George Illawarra joint venture.

An Illawarra junior, the man nicknamed ‘the general’ would feature 44 times for St George Illawarra across two seasons predominantly at fullback, including their 1999 Grand Final loss to newcomers the Melbourne Storm.

Although he was clearly talented, the Dragons did not see Patten as the long-term heir to the fullback jersey and as a result, was quickly snapped up by the Steve Folkes coached Bulldogs.

What preceded seemingly no-one at the Dragons would have predicted, with the general going onto feature 225 times for the Bulldogs, including three Country Origin appearances, a premiership, two Bulldogs player of the year awards and being named in the NSW Blues squad during the 2009 Origin series.

During his 10 year stay at Belmore, Patten would forge a reputation as one of the games hardest working and most superstitious players, someone who relied on his tactical nous to make up for his physical shortcomings.

Fiercely competitive and immensely fit, Patten’s success story is one of sacrifice and hard work above all, two traits that the Dragons desperately lacked in the pre and post-Wayne Bennett era.

SYDNEY, NSW - MARCH 11: Luke Patten of the Bulldogs in action during round 1 of the NRL match between the Bulldogs and the Dragons on March 11, 2005 at Telstra Stadium Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)


  1. Slow news day…

    Firstly J Moz left because he could not get a start in front of Gasnier and then Gasnier left and came back half way through the premiership winning season (Obviously to get a ring) which the dragons didn’t need him. Signed for bihg bucks and screwrfd the dragons by retiring early. (He didn’t retire because of injury).

    The rest such as Pattern, Ennis, Cook left very young. No one knew they were going to go onto better things

  2. Salary cap played a big part in this as did Gasnier with J Moz and Bennett also.

    Another contributor is the youth coming through the system, the Dragons can’t keep everyone (ask Penrith fans they’ll agree)
    and also injuries (Young, Creagh etc)

    The only thing Dragons have got wrong imo is the way they’ve used some of the youth, relied to heavily on the old heads instead of blooding. For example all those times we played De Belin in the halves when younger players would’ve jumped at the chance.

  3. Bennet didn’t want J Moz, didn’t think he was up to it. J Moz did not want to leave. More fool us. Can’t believe Leeson Ah Mau isn’t on the list, awesome forward and how’s he going at the worriers?

  4. Luke Bailey deserves far than an honourable mention, I’d have him at 2 after Fitzgibbon. I’m also surprised Riddell isn’t on the list, he was more of a loss than someone like Kite.

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