Bigger Runciman vows to keep up the pace

RUGBY LEAGUE

He plans to feast on his mother's Christmas offerings but a bulked-up Charly Runciman insists he won't add too much size at the expense of speed in his second year in the NRL.

Thrust into the Dragons' top grade squad before even he expected to get a chance last season, Runciman's plight looms as one of the more intriguing ones for St George-Illawarra coach Steve Price.

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The problem? Four into two just won't go with Runciman, the near fully-fit Gerard Beale and recruits Dylan Farrell (Souths) and Peter Mata'utia (Newcastle) all jockeying for positions.

If Sam Williams claims the No 7 jersey, Kyle Stanley could also be an internal threat.

"We have a fairly young side this year compared to last year. I think it really shows," the Junior Kangaroo said.

"We're a lot more enthusiastic and very competitive because there are a lot more spots up for grabs this year.

"It's all up in the air at the moment which is why we're all competing as hard as we can against each other. It should get the best out of all of us."

While the Dragons take a short break from the pre-season slog over Christmas, Runciman will dash back to hometown Dubbo to celebrate with his family.

It's likely to do no harm to his bid to add some weight to his 90kg frame.

The 20-year-old knows a little more size will be imperative to surviving the rigours of a first full season in the NRL.

"I've still got a little bit of weight to gain this year," Runciman said.

"I've been struggling to put it on, but I'm getting there slowly but surely. It will be good to get home for Christmas and getting cooked for by my mum.

"As long as I can keep my speed and even get a little bit faster as we keep training throughout the pre-season, I think I will be all right.

"It will help to be a little bit stronger and heavier but I want to mainly just keep my speed."

He could potentially be one of the first names pencilled in when the Dragons settle on their squad for the inaugural Auckland Nines.

"The trials sort the men out from the boys," he said. "It will be different going over to Auckland to play in the Nines ... it will be a different type of footy.

"We'll definitely know [where we stand] by the Charity Shield. It would always be nice to start in round one, but I know I've got to work hard and concentrate on doing all the little things right and be around the mark at that time of the season.

"I'll give myself every chance I can."

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