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Tyrell Sloan ready to fight for Dragons' No.1 jersey

Scott Bailey -

Tyrell Sloan is up for the fight to hold onto the St George Illawarra No.1 jersey, saying he is determined to improve his defence and remain first-choice fullback at the Dragons.

Sloan is facing stiff competition for the role from regular centre Zac Lomax, who has spent time at fullback in training.

New coach Shane Flanagan has indicated he wants to toughen up Sloan, with Lomax a chance to wear No.1 and Jack Bird a potential option at centre.

But the 21-year-old is not willing to give up his jumper without a fight.

"I want to be a fullback and that's all I know," Sloan said.

"It's been like this my whole career. There has always been competition. The first few years there was (Matt) Duff and Cody (Ramsey).

"Then Cody, but he got sick last year. So there's always lots of competition.

"It's something I don't really stress about. I back my ability.

"We haven't been performing where we need to be for the last three years that I've been in grade. I really want to step up and make that position mine."

Not helping Sloan's cause is that he is sidelined with thumb and ankle injuries, with the latter suffered at the Koori Knockout.

That has given him the chance to spend extra time in the gym and beef up, but the player is adamant size is not his issue.

"Size doesn't matter," a defiant Sloan said.

"You look at Preston Campbell, he was one of the best fullbacks as well. He did his job.

"There are a lot of players that are smaller than me that have played grade."

Instead, Sloan wants to focus on his much-maligned defence.

The Indigenous All-Star has made a point of doing extensive video work with returned assistant coach Dean Young, studying his and others' games.

"It's something I do lack, I'll be honest," Sloan said.

"There's moments there when I'm good and there are moments there when I'm bad.

"I'm my own worst critic, and sometimes I come out of a tackle filthy on myself for letting my team down.

"I want to be the person that if there's a line break or anything, I can be depended on to make that tackle."

Sloan insists there is still plenty of development in him after 36 NRL games since his June 2021 debut under Anthony Griffin.

Initially signed on a development deal by the Dragons for 2021 and 2022, Sloan was not meant to be part of the club's top-30 roster until last season.

"I'm not going to say I got rushed in, but I did progress pretty early," he said.

"Last year was meant to be my first full year of NRL, that's what I signed.

"Now that I've had that, I've got the confidence to take it on and wherever that might be, whether it's fullback or wing."

Scott Bailey - AAP


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