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Gasnier says he's a Dragon for long haul

28/06/2010 07:19:14 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra prodigal son Mark Gasnier declared winning an NRL premiership was the driving force behind him returning from rugby union and committing himself to the Dragons until the end of 2014.

After months of speculation Gasnier has finally signed a new four-and-a-half year deal with the club he walked out on in 2008, when third party deals promised to him fell through.

Through his uncle Reg, and his own prodigious ability, the Gasnier name had become synonymous with the Dragons.

And after 18 months playing for French rugby club State Francais, the 28-year-old local junior could be back in the famous "Red V" as soon as next week.

There have been questions asked about how St George Illawarra will reshuffle their full-strength side to accommodate Gasnier, with incumbent NSW Origin centres Beau Scott and Matt Cooper in the team.

The former NSW and Test star is under no illusion that his spot is guaranteed, however, once established his end goal is clear.

"I want to win a comp, I said that from the start," said Gasnier.

"I think I'd be kidding myself if I think I'm going to walk straight back in there and be fit as a fiddle and kill it, but I hope to do my best and where that may be we'll get a gauge of it and work hard on it I guess.

"I'm ecstatic but as I said it's not about me and what I want to achieve, it's about the club and me fitting into the club and (coach) Wayne (Bennett) made that clear from the start.

"Would I say they can win the comp? Most definitely. But I'm not going to say they're certainties to win the comp, no way."

Bennett wouldn't be drawn into discussing how he might fit Gasnier into his all-star backline, but he admitted he wouldn't be getting a free ride.

"He's got to earn everything he's going to get going forward here because we do have a good team and they're all playing well," said Bennett, who said Gasnier would be named in their squad to tackle Penrith next Monday night at Kogarah.

"It's nice to have him here and I wanted to have him here but at the same time the work's in front of us all now to make sure we can get him up to speed and get him to where we need him to play and fit him into the team environment."

Gasnier said there was a honeymoon period where he relished the chance to get away from the NRL spotlight, but after six months of playing in France, he longed for the 13-a-side game and realised there was unfinished business for him at the Dragons.

"A part of me knew I was going to play a game of league again, I'm just thankful it worked out to be back here and everything fell into place," he said.

"Personally I like league better as far as touching the ball."

St George Illawarra captain Ben Hornby said the players were delighted to have Gasnier on board but were relieved the distraction of his ongoing negotiations had finally ended.

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