Hard-working Mitch Rein aims to keep place

NRL

The pre-season jostle for spots is vigorous at St George Illawarra, with rising hooker Mitch Rein admitting that not even he is safe from a positional shake-up.

As the Dragons slogged their way through more gruelling pre-season training this week, the tough-minded rake said players in key positions couldn't afford to rest on their laurels.

Despite a strong start to the 2012 season, inconsistency and teething problems in attack prevented the Dragons from finishing in the top eight, provoking an inquiry into possible changes.

With the likes of Cameron King, Nathan Fien and new recruit Damien Cook pressing their case for a start in the No 9, 22-year-old Rein knows as much as anyone not to take anything for granted.

"We've got a big pre-season coming up and we've got a couple of new recruits, so everyone's going to be pushing each other for spots," he said.

"Nothing's set in stone with positions yet, so everyone's going to be pushing one another hard to get a start, which is good.

"There's a lot of competition there for playing hooker, but it makes us all better players because we're continually pushing each other and it's good motivation."

The acquisition of Kiwi international Bronson Harrison this week is the latest of several additions to the club for next year.

The Dragons have added five fresh faces to their ranks including Harrison, Gerard Beale, Tyson Frizell, Josh Drinkwater and Michael Henderson. Several familiar faces from the lower grades have also joined the NRL side in pre-season preparations.

The departures of Ben Hornby, Beau Scott and Dean Young have opened the door to a host of players attempting to prise their way into the starting side.

Dragons coach Steve Price has openly endorsed players with a good work ethic during his tenure, and indicated to the Mercury that it could be a factor in the allocation of positions.

"I'm really comfortable with the playing roster that we've got at the moment," Price said.

"At the moment I'm just focusing on how they apply themselves everyday throughout the pre-season.

"It's an opportunity for young guys to step up and make their mark in the coming years."

Rein knows better than anyone Price's philosophy that hard work usually reaps rewards.

When the Dragons languished at the back end of 2012, the Kiama junior turned in a series of performances which belied his relative inexperience in the top grade.

Now, Rein is looking to build on the "rewarding" campaign, simply by doing more of the same thing.

"I'm just really trying to work on consistency," Rein said.

"The best players in the game have it, it's just so hard to keep continually performing each week.

"I set myself small goals at the start and then as I slowly achieved them, I started setting more goals.

"I really worked on my game at training and that's what happens when you put in a lot of hard work - you reap the rewards."

Rein said he would be better prepared for the upcoming season having now experienced the rigours of a full calendar year in the NRL.

"With the schedule we've got it's pretty demanding physically and mentally," he said.

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