Sloan taking nothing for granted after Dragons' win

Tyrell Sloan sparked a crucial first-start win for St George Illawarra but is determined not to fall back into the trap of assuming he has a mortgage on the fullback jersey.

Six months ago, the highly-rated local junior requested a release from the remainder of his Dragons contract after dropping behind Cody Ramsey and Moses Mbye in the fullback stakes.

Touted as the future of the club alongside Jayden Sullivan and Talatau Amone, Sloan had become frustrated with his limited chances at first-grade level.

Coach Anthony Griffin started him at fullback in only four games of a disappointing 2022 season.

On Sunday against Gold Coast, the 20-year-old played his first premiership game since withdrawing his request for a release and was influential in his preferred position.

Sloan's line break from dummy-half in the 31st minute set Jacob Liddle up for a try and inspired the Dragons to fight back from 12-2 down.

When Sloan slid over from Ben Hunt's short ball just after half-time, St George Illawarra were on their way to winning 32-18 and putting an off-season of controversies behind them.

Sloan's return to fullback could hardly have gone better and one might think the youngster would begin to get ahead of himself, especially now Mbye has shifted to hooker and Ramsey is out for the season.

But Sloan knows better than to make that mistake again.

"No jersey here is anyone's, no matter who you are or what you've done," Sloan said.

"Last year I was trying to be a bit bigger than my boots, instead of finding my way in grade.

"I didn't put myself in a good position last year to continue to have that number one jersey. That's why I probably lost it.

"This year I wanted to change my mindset and come in and earn the respect of my teammates and my coaching staff.

"It's only one game, anything can happen still. As long as I keep a cool head and keep getting confidence off my coaches and myself, I'll be good."

If Sloan needs further evidence that no one is safe at Griffin's selection table, he need only look at debutant Toby Couchman.

The local junior was chosen ahead of former State of Origin prop Aaron Woods for the Dragons' first game of the year.

"Some of the boys might've thought they would've slipped into the 17 but it just comes down to hard work," Sloan said.

Following the Dragons' win, Sloan phoned Indigenous All Stars teammate Latrell Mitchell to check on him after he was racially abused by a member of the crowd at Penrith on Thursday.

When Sloan broke down after the Dragons' hefty loss to the Rabbitohs in the Charity Shield pre-season game, Mitchell consoled his fellow Wiradjuri man. On Sunday, it was Sloan's turn to reach out.

"There's definitely no room for racism, especially in this day and age," he said.

"It's just not on.

"I'm also a proud Aboriginal man. I haven't experienced it yet and I don't want to go through it. I feel for Trell. We've all got his back."