Top eight or bust for Dragons in 2018

Anything short of finals football will represent failure for St George Illawarra in 2018.

 

That's the view of stern-talking hooker Cameron McInnes as the Red V attempts to move on from the heartache of 2017.

The 23-year-old this week put pen to paper on a deal which will keep him at the club until the end of 2021 - a move he calls a no-brainer due to the club's upward trajectory.

The Dragons missed this year's top eight despite leading the competition after seven rounds and the No.9 admits the first two weeks the off-season were "excruciating".

He says he struggled to watch the finals but the heartache serves as fuel for motivation for 2018.

"The first two weeks were tough, I won't lie," McInnes said.

"It was pretty hard to sit still and I had a lot of thoughts about what-ifs and what could have been.

Widdop or Dufty? Pic: Getty

"I went away with my fiance and I got my head around it and there's not much I can do about it now.

"When I got back to Australia, I started plotting again for the next year and get myself ready to go."

With marquee signings James Graham and Ben Hunt added to Paul McGregor's squad, McInnes said it was top eight or bust next year.

"Finals footy, that's what the goal is," McInnes said.

"Anything short of that will be a failure. I think it's just about being better than last year and being consistent."

McInnes declined to test his value on the open market despite a breakout 2017 in which he put himself in the conversation for future State of Origin honours.

He said he believes the Dragons are the club to get the best out of him and in the long-run that will be better for his career and future asking price.

"With the way the club's heading and the players we have here, I know for me to play my best football, this is where I need to be," McInnes said.

"My view with money is that money comes after success; if I play my best footy here, doors will open in the future."

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