Priddis looms as Dragons' saving grace - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Priddis looms as Dragons' saving grace

By Steve Jancetic 20/03/2010 03:23:46 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra tried their best over the NRL off-season to persuade Luke Priddis to retire, but the veteran hooker's decision not to hang up the boots may well end up saving the Dragons' premiership hopes.

Priddis, who made just one start in his first year at the club as he struggled to emerge from coach Wayne Bennett's doghouse, proved himself an admirable replacement for injured rake Nathan Fien as the Dragons beat Canterbury 26-6 in Wollongong on Friday night.

In just his second starting appearance for the club, Priddis punched out 55 minutes to give the Dragons hope that Fien's broken leg won't kill off the team's premiership chances.

All five of the home side's tries against the Bulldogs came with the 33-year-old former Penrith hooker on the paddock.

"I know what a good player he is - we didn't bring him here just to make up the numbers," Bennett said.

"He had a bit of a tough season last year.

"He complemented our team out there, that's all I wanted him to do, I didn't want him to be the star of the show, just get the ball to the players that want it when they want it."

However, it seems Bennett's opinion of the player with whom he won a premiership with at Brisbane in 2000 wasn't always as high, with the Dragons last year recruiting Fien mid-season despite having Priddis on their books.

The club then urged the former NSW No.9 to give the game away over the off-season with Priddis not figuring in Bennett's plans, before Fien was ruled out until just before the finals.

"I did (contemplate retirement), it didn't come up from my point of view, but it was mentioned," Priddis said.

"But that's history.

"I didn't want to go out with the way I finished last year."

Asked why Priddis managed only ten appearances in 2009, including nine off the bench, Bennett said:

"Because I didn't pick him - that's why he didn't play much

"Last year was last year, I've moved on from that."

Priddis is glad Bennett moved on, but he also took steps to put himself back in the picture.

His decision to leave his wife and four kids at home a few days a week to share a place in Wollongong with teammate Jarrod Saffy has paid dividends on the training paddock, allowing him to take advantage of Fien's misfortune.

"I wasn't quite sure if I was going to play this year or not but I had a good off-season," Priddis said.

"I wasn't sure whether I was going to get a start or not and unlucky for Fiensy, he was playing great last week and would have cemented his spot for quite a while.

"I always knew I had another year on my contract. I probably wasn't in Wayne's plans for most of that second half of the year and even coming in to the off-season there was a question mark over whether I was going to keep playing or not.

"I decided on a few things, I still wanted to compete in the game."

And the Dragons have been left thanking their lucky stars he did.

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