Gasnier fired up for perfect return - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gasnier fired up for perfect return

By David Beniuk 30/09/2010 08:17:48 PM Comments (0)

Mark Gasnier has a simple answer to what an NRL premiership meant when he decided to return to St George Illawarra from rugby union: "Everything".

The former Test centre wasn't even a twinkle in Wayne Bennett's eye as the coach planned his assault on the 2010 premiership.

But since his first game back, in the round 17 loss to Penrith, Gasnier has improved into a potential X-factor for the Dragons who will meet the Sydney Roosters in Sunday's decider at ANZ Stadium.

It's a brave new world for the 29-year-old, who was an integral part of the heartbreaking St George Illawarra campaigns of 2005-06.

But it was the chance to make amends that drove the man with the club's most famous surname to return after two seasons in French rugby.

"It was winning the title," he told the grand final breakfast press conference on Thursday.

"That's something that I really wanted to achieve."

Things had changed since Gasnier left at the end of 2008. Back then, he was the captain and young coach Nathan Brown was at the helm.

The Dragons had a reputation for being unreliable and ill-disciplined.

What he walked into this year was a team hardened beyond recognition by one of the game's greatest ever coaches, Bennett.

"First and foremost it was fitting into the team and what they do well and hopefully they accepted me," Gasnier said.

"It's turned out that way and hopefully we can achieve what we want to achieve.

"I was probably more worried about me rather than the impressions (of what had changed).

"I knew I had so much hard work to do and I was trying to concentrate on doing that step by step, so I didn't really look around the place and look at what's changed.

"I was really more conscious about how I was travelling and where I needed to go."

But what he saw in the club, he liked.

"After a month or so I quickly assessed how tight the group was and how focused they were on achieving what they wanted to achieve," he said.

"I think that was the biggest thing."

The biggest thing for Gasnier now is going where no Dragon has gone in 31 years and claiming a premiership ring.

Bennett has said his players are over their biggest hurdle, the bogey second-last week, but Gasnier admits he's in unchartered waters.

"I've never gotten over (that hurdle)," he said.

"This is my first week in the grand final and I'm thoroughly enjoying it but subconsciously Sunday's in the back of my mind.

"It's kind of different when it's your first week, I guess you don't really know what to expect, so having someone like Wayne does help but we'll still prepare the way we have in the past."

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