Jeremy Smith will steel Dragons: Lima - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Jeremy Smith will steel Dragons: Lima

By Melissa Woods 06/03/2009 06:05:19 PM Comments (0)

If St George Illawarra were looking for a player to shed their tag of NRL softies, they got their man in Jeremy Smith according to his former Storm teammate Jeff Lima.

Smith joined the Wayne Bennett-coached Dragons this season, leaving Melbourne after five years, and will face his old side in the NRL season-opener at Olympic Park next Friday night.

The under-achieving St George Illawarra, who haven't won a premiership in 30 years despite a bevy of talent, have earned a reputation for having a soft underbelly.

Lima didn't know if such a label was deserved but said there was nothing soft about his good friend Smith, who is known for his fearsome defence and powerful runs.

"Jeremy's quality at our side was his aggression on the field and his leadership," Lima said.

"He's a bloke you can rely on to have watch your back all the time on the football field.

"He goes 100 miles an hour even at training.

"If a couple of guys can look up to him and follow him in the same way then I'm pretty sure that team will be hard to beat."

While Lima conceded Smith's departure would be felt, he said there were plenty of willing and able replacements among the Storm ranks.

Kevin Proctor and Wairangi Koopu are among players putting pressure on Ryan Hoffman and Sika Manu for backrow jerseys.

"It's a big loss for us but we've got a lot of depth in our club, a couple of young guys coming up who look pretty good," Lima said.

Lima himself is battling Adam Blair and Brett White to start against the Dragons, with the latter prop likely to find himself on the interchange bench due to his slow recovery from operations on his feet.

Lima, who also had off-season knee surgery, said he was happy just to be in the 17-man squad and was doing all he could to ensure that.

The 26-year-old was at Storm headquarters training despite the players being given the day off.

"I'm just trying to get ahead, a little bit extra doesn't hurt," he said.

"I haven't set any goals apart from being in the top 17."

And the always smiling Lima has taken on a more serious role within the playing group, acting as a liaison and mentor for the younger Polynesian players.

"I try to help them as much as I can," he said.

"A couple of the boys are a bit intimidated by our leadership group when they're struggling with things so they come to me or Blairy (Adam Blair) and talk to us and we go and talk to the leadership boys."

Bennett was an assistant coach during New Zealand's World Cup upset of Australia, however Lima missed the tournament due to his knee surgery.

But he was well aware of the impact of the most successful NRL coach in history and expected the Dragons would react the same way as the Kiwis.

"All the players have got a lot of respect for him, that's why they did so well for the New Zealand team and I'm sure St George players will be the same," he said.

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