Gasnier's best a year away, says Young - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gasnier's best a year away, says Young

By Steve Jancetic 30/06/2010 05:12:36 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra lock Dean Young has warned Dragons fans it could take until next year before prodigal son Mark Gasnier returns to the type of form which had him tagged the best centre in the NRL.

As Gasnier's teammates do their best to lower expectations ahead of his NRL return against Penrith on Monday night after more than 18 months away from the game, Young said it would be unfair to expect Gasnier to dominate defences like he did before his sojourn in French rugby union.

"I don't think he's going to be the same player as when he left," Young said following Gasnier's first training session back at the club.

"(Former NBA star) Michael Jordan, the greatest sportsman of all time, took ten months to get back to his greatest.

"I think it's unfair to expect Gaz to be the player he was because I can't see that happening this year.

"I'm sure he'll get back to his best next year at some stage but this year it's just about him getting back, fitting in the team somewhere, getting used to the defensive structure we use under Wayne Bennett now and getting some fitness up.

"He's been out of the game, he probably hasn't tackled anyone or played a tough game of footy in 18 months, it's not about Gaz coming out and being brilliant."

Gasnier spent much of Wednesday's training session working on plays with five-eighth Jamie Soward, with the pair set to feature down the Dragons' right edge over the next few seasons.

Much of the Dragons' success this season has been attributed to the prolific left side featuring Ben Hornby, Matt Cooper, Darius Boyd and Brett Morris, Young claiming the side would not alter things to the point where Gasnier became the focal point he was before quitting the club.

Rather, the Dragons believe Gasnier looms as the x-factor capable of translating regular season dominance into finals success.

"We were minor premiers last year and we're leading the comp this year without him," Young said.

"He gets to come back and all the pressure's taken off him because if we keep on winning it's not going to be because of Mark Gasnier and if we start losing it's not going to be because of Mark Gasnier.

"I think in the past for this club when you thought of St George Illawarra Dragons you probably thought of Mark Gasnier where now you probably think of Wayne Bennett.

"It takes a lot of pressure off him, he's not captain this time, Ben Hornby's the captain of this club and Gaz can come back and enjoy his footy and not have to worry about the pressure of all that.

"It's a great scenario for him."

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