The St George Illawarra Dragons are reportedly targeting the trio of Thomas Dearden, Connor Tracey and back-rower Heilum Luki to strengthen their roster.
The Dragons have only managed to recruit Kyle Flanagan (Bulldogs) and Hame Sele (Rabbitohs) ahead of the upcoming season and will be looking to strengthen their side with more signings.
Dearden and Tracey were already to have been known to catch the interest of the Dragons, but it is understood that the club are finalising their plans on the recruitment front.
Also on their radar is North Queensland Cowboys forward Heilum Luki. Contracted to 2025, Luki has reportedly been linked to the club and will be a great addition to their forward pack – an area they have struggled in recent seasons.
“I expect those meetings and negotiations to ramp up in the next four to six weeks,” The Daily Telegraph‘s David Riccio said on SEN.
“It’s about allowing those players to enjoy their end of season breaks. Also to allow Dragons management to get their ducks in a row and figure out who they want to meet.
“That’s where it’s at and we’ll start to hear a bit more about the Dragons’ targets.”
In an open market with few quality options to wear either the number six or seven jersey, Dearden is likely to be chased by a number of clubs, including the Dragons – he has also reportedly been offered a new deal by the North Queensland Cowboys.
Dearden’s manager Sam Ayoub told News Corp that there was no rush for Dearden in assessing his options.
“Tom is in a good position whether it be now, in January, or March, April,” Sam Ayoub told the publication.
“I don’t want to heap any pressure on him so I won’t be talking about it publicly. He is on the market but there is no urgency for either he or I or the Cowboys to jump into it.
“They know my position and we will assess it in due course.”
The former Brisbane Bronco was part of the Cowboys side that made the preliminary finals in 2022, although the 2023 campaign saw the Cowboys come up well short, missing the finals.
Already known to have garnered the interest of Shane Flanagan and the Dragons due to the lack of fullback options at the club, Tracey has been used virtually everywhere in the backline for the Sharks and shapes as a strong option for a club like the Dragons.
A versatile player, he has been currently stuck behind the likes of Ronaldo Mulitalo and Sione Katoa on the wing, Siosifa Talakai and Jesse Ramien in the centres, and Braydon Trindall and Nicho Hynes in the halves at the Sharks.
This has reportedly seen him ask for a release “a few times” from the Sharks, per News Corp’s Brent Read.
“He’s a guy that we’ve been following for a while.. there are some clubs circling him,” News Corp journalist Brent Read told Triple M at the beginning of October.
“St. George Illawarra and Shane Flanagan is one of them and probably the big one. He’s (Tracey) now got permission to talk to rival clubs about 2025 as he has a year to go on his deal.
“He’s asked for a release a few times now from the Sharks but Cronulla are digging in their heels saying, ‘no you aren’t going to go, we are going to keep you next year’ but he’s now got permission to speak to rival clubs for 2025.
“I’d be stunned if he’s not at the Dragons.
“I think the other reason why Cronulla are reluctant to let him leave is because they have him in the right price. They aren’t paying him the earth. If he was to test the open market, he’d get a pretty healthy pay rise.”
Tracey debuted in 2019 with the South Sydney Rabbitohs and has made 66 NRL appearances.