Dragons anticipated fan backlash over Illawarra name change query

Dragons officials said they anticipated some fan backlash over a survey question asking if “Illawarra” should be dropped from the club name in favour of a return to St George Dragons.

Club chief executive Ryan Webb confirmed he gave the green light to all survey questions sent to members and non-members at the start of the week that were devised by an independent consultancy group.

“And you wouldn’t be able to call it an independent review if you start changing questions,” Webb said.

“I thought this would stir an emotive response from some people, but if we ultimately receive worthwhile feedback, then it’s worth it.

“We sometimes hear people talk about needing to be more united and why we should change this or that, but there aren’t any facts, which is why we wanted to bring in a consultancy group to ask questions and paint the picture for us.”

As part of the survey, the question was asked if the club should be known as St George Illawarra Dragons, or St George Dragons, Southern Dragons, Greater Sydney Dragons, and The Dragons.

Jack de Belin knows the Dragons will trouble plenty of NRL teams.Credit:Getty Images

Webb said there was also a question about how members referred to the club, which included “Illawarra Dragons”.

He said any proposed changes to the club’s name, colours, logo or even home ground must receive unanimous support at board level, said Webb.

Despite plenty of fans erupting on social media to the proposal to wipe Illawarra from history, there had been less than a half a dozen complaints lodged with the club.

As a few members were taken aback by the contentious rebranding proposal, forward Jack de Belin revealed why the NRL side would surprise plenty of NRL clubs in the 2023 season.

The Dragons have missed the finals the past three years, and are not expected to feature in September again next year, but de Belin had good reason to believe things would be different.

“The way we’re tracking, I think we’ll surprise a few teams next year, definitely,” de Belin said.

“Even in years gone by, I look at our side and think, ‘we have so much talent, and it’s disappointing and frustrating we haven’t really tapped into it’.

“We never blow sides away, I think we only had one game against Souths that was a blowout, we always scrap it out. It would be nice this year to blow and put them to the sword.”

Veteran front-rower Aaron Woods added: “Our biggest thing is being consistent and playing an entire 80 minutes.

“We won our first game last year, then we almost went into our shell and went back to one-out basics.

“We believe we can make a dent in the competition, and a lot of the time you just need that self belief.”

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