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Soward 'needs to earn' new Dragons deal

By Ed Jackson 27/01/2010 04:50:30 PM Comments (0)

He was one of the hottest players in the NRL last season but St George Illawarra star Jamie Soward isn't expecting to have a new contract handed to him for his 2009 form.

Instead, the five-eighth says he must continue to shine for the Dragons if he wants coach Wayne Bennett to offer him a deal when his current contract ends at the end of the season.

"I'm off contract at the end of the year so I've just got to play good this year," Soward told reporters on Wednesday.

"No one cares what you did last year."

Good times turning sour are nothing new for the diminutive playmaker, who was allowed to leave the Sydney Roosters halfway through the 2007 season to join the Dragons less than three years after securing the club a Jersey Flegg title in 2004.

Big things were tipped for Soward after that youth season in 2004, where he scored 28 tries and kicked 117 goals for a record 352-point tally including the match-winning field goal in the grand final against Cronulla.

But having failed to make an impact at Bondi Junction, Soward has had to rebuild his reputation at the Dragons and he's not prepared to rest on his laurels in 2010.

"I'll have to play good this year and hopefully Wayne at the end of the year comes and we sign a contract for next year," he said.

"But I've still got one year to go so I'm not thinking about contracts or anything like that."

Aiding Soward's ambition is his veteran coach's reputation for developing solid working relationships with his key playmakers.

Having worked with firstly Allan Langer and then Darren Lockyer during his 20-year stint at Brisbane that included six premierships, Bennett says developing a similar understanding with Soward is one of his main ambitions.

"It's important with your chief playmakers that you have a good relationship," Bennett said.

"If you don't communicate and build that relationship there's going to be a lot of misunderstanding and frustration between both parties."

Bennett also feels he's in a better place to guide the Dragons to glory in 2010, having already transformed the club in genuine contenders during his first season at the helm.

He believes he underestimated the challenge of switching clubs after two decades with the Broncos, but was well ahead of where he was with the Dragons this time last year.

"When you've been in a place for a while you're certainly a lot more comfortable and I'm certainly in that boat," Bennett said.

"I just didn't realise what a big challenge I'd taken on until I got back this year and realised how much more easier it was having been with the guys for 12 months and everybody knowing what's required of them.

"A lot more easier this pre-season than last."

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