Dragons have Learoyd-Lahrs in their sights

Raiders forward Tom
Learoyd-Lahrs is considering his
future, with the Dragons interested
in signing him before the June 30
deadline. Picture: JEFFREY CHAN
Raiders forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs is considering his future, with the Dragons interested in signing him before the June 30 deadline. Picture: JEFFREY CHAN


Another big-name Canberra Raider could sign with St George Illawarra within weeks.

The Dragons are investigating the possibility of signing prop Tom Learoyd-Lahrs before the June 30 mid-season transfer deadline.

Having struggled with injuries and for match time under new coach Ricky Stuart, it is understood Learoyd-Lahrs is resigned to leaving Canberra and has begun the hunt for a new home.

The struggling Dragons are particularly interested, desperate to bolster their under-siege forward pack immediately as a season which began so promisingly plunges into freefall.

Learoyd-Lahrs has a young family and would prefer to stay in Canberra, but the 28-year-old sees the writing on the wall after being overtaken in the Raiders pecking order by young props Shannon Boyd and Kyle O'Donnell.

The Tamworth product is one of the highest-paid players at the Raiders, and his departure would free up more money as Canberra chases the signature of off-contract Melbourne forward Kevin Proctor.

The Dragons have an extensive history of recruiting Raiders players, and former Canberra stars Josh Dugan, Joel Thompson, Sam Williams and Bronson Harrison are currently on their books.

It hasn't helped them end their long-running hoodoo against Canberra though, the Green Machine winning the last nine games between the two clubs since 2007.

A forward swap is on the cards, with Thompson likely to return to Canberra next year for family reasons, having started a three-year deal with the Dragons this season.

Learoyd-Lahrs played four Tests for Australia and four Origins with NSW in 2009 and 2010, but a freakish foot injury restricted him to just eight NRL games last year.

He suffered a further setback when another ankle injury ruled him out for the opening three rounds this year, and has been languishing in the NSW Cup since.

Despite having one of the NRL's best backlines, St George Illawarra and coach Steve Price have come under heavy fire after dropping six of their last seven games.

It has been reported Raiders legend and NSW coach Laurie Daley is top of the Dragons' coaching wish list, but they will stick by Price until the end of the season.

Their Dragons forward pack has copped the brunt of the criticism, and the experienced Learoyd-Lahrs would add valuable experience and starch.

It's understood Learoyd-Lahrs firmly believes he still has plenty to offer at the top level, and has been churning out about 60 minutes for Raiders NSW Cup affiliate Mounties in recent weeks.

He doesn't harbour any animosity towards the Raiders, but is keen to extend his NRL career and is prepared to move to do so.

Last year's sackings of Dugan and Blake Ferguson, plus the departure of Anthony Milford to Brisbane next season, means Canberra have serious salary cap room for 2015.

But their poor recent form isn't helping attract established big-name starts to the capital.

The club was rocked further this week when local junior centre Matt Allwood announced he would join New Zealand Warriors on a three-season deal next year.

Veteran prop Brett White is yet to announce whether he will retire after this year, or play on in 2015.


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