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Flanagan wants off-contract Sloan as Dragons No.1

Scott Bailey -

Shane Flanagan sees Tyrell Sloan as St George Illawarra's long-term No.1, adamant the Dragons want to keep the young star in Wollongong.

Sloan is off contract at the end of this year, with negotiations between the Dapto junior and Dragons management crawling along.

The Dragons have one of the biggest salary-cap arsenals in the NRL, with big money available for 2025 and beyond.

They have made no secret of their desire to attract talent, including vocalising an audacious play for Joey Manu in the off-season before he signed with rugby.

The Dragons have also met with Penrith flyer Sunia Turuva, who has the potential to be a fullback in the long term.

Regardless, Flanagan says Sloan is the man he wants at No.1.

"Tyrell is 21, and the Turuva bit, he could be at Penrith, so there is no use talking about it," he said.

"Tyrell was outstanding for us last week. He's 21 years of age. He's got a big future. He wants to stay here and we want to keep him.

"The development of Tyrell over this year and next year, hopefully he is the long-term fullback for the club.

"Because they're hard to find in any of those key positions, so he's on the right track."

Sloan has been one of the stars of the Dragons' revival this year under new coach Flanagan, with four wins in seven rounds compared with five through all of 2023.

The fullback's seven tries have him equal-third in the league, and his 90-metre effort against the Warriors last Friday showcased his silky speed.

"We're endeavouring to keep Sloany," Flanagan said.

"We're in discussions with his management company. It hasn't been quick, but we would like to think that gets done."

In the short term, Flanagan has other decisions to make in his backline, with Jack Bird cleared to face the Sydney Roosters after missing last week with concussion.

Bird's absence allowed Zac Lomax to be granted his wish of playing centre in Bird's spot, carrying his career-best form on the wing into the centre role.

Lomax is at this stage named to stay at centre, with Flanagan weighing up leaving him there and using Bird as a bench utility.

Meanwhile, winger Mikaele Ravalawa did not train on Wednesday due to knee soreness.

If Ravalawa was to be rested from the Anzac Day fixture, Bird would come back at centre, with Lomax reverting to the right wing and Christian Tuipulotu on the left.

"I just have to make a decision over the next 24 hours which way I start, but (Jack Bird) would be in there somewhere," Flanagan said on Wednesday morning.

"It's hard to change winning teams, but we've had 22 or 23 players that have played up to round seven ... so we'll trust and rely on those players that have done the job for us previously."

Scott Bailey - AAP

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