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Dragons recruit Kyle Flanagan admits he didn’t immediately jump at the idea of playing hooker but before leaving the Bulldogs he thanked coach Cameron Ciraldo for revitalising his career.

After joining St George Illawarra to play under his father Shane, Flanagan doesn’t yet know whether he will be partnering Ben Hunt in the halves or sharing the dummy half duties with Jacob Liddle.

Yet the 25-year-old doesn’t mind and he no longer worries about the prospect of the Dragons signing Queensland Origin representative Tom Dearden as their long term halfback.

'Looking forward to the new opportunity and next season': Kyle Flanagan settling in at the Red V

“When I was probably coming into first grade, when I was 19 or 20, I would probably be thinking 'what’s going on here, I don’t want this',” Flanagan said.

“But I’m at a stage in my career where I want these players to come to our club and fighting for spots. You want to be part of good footy teams. I’m open to anything like that [Dearden coming in].

“I'm at a stage now in my career where I'm not too fussed about what position I play, if I'm playing off the bench or I'm not even playing. I just want to be part of a good organisation and a good footy team that's winning games.

“I think I can play any one of those roles and I believe that my best attribute is competing every week and leaving everything out on the footy field.”

Yet the former Sharks, Roosters and Bulldogs playmaker didn’t always feel that way and admit he initially had reservations when Ciraldo approached him about transitioning from halfback to hooker last April.

Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo with Kyle Flanagan (left)
Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo with Kyle Flanagan (left) ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

To learn the role, Flanagan was sent back to NSW Cup and after starting seven games at hooker and one at lock he was recalled to the NRL team for the final eight rounds of their Telstra Premiership campaign.

“When it first sort of popped up I sort of ummed and ahhed about it but I said ‘thank you’ to Ciro before I left about sort of opening my eyes to that sort of role,” he said.

“I had a good relationship with him, and I just thanked him for seeing that potential in me of playing nine. He really put time and effort into me doing that and I just thanked him for that.

“I'm not too sure what the next year looks like, but adding another string to the bow is always going to help me in my career.”

It’s been a rollercoaster career for Flanagan, whose only match under his father’s coaching was his 2018 debut for Cronulla, where he left in 2020 to join the Roosters for one season before a three-year stint with the Bulldogs.

Arriving at Bondi and Belmore to great fanfare, Flanagan failed to live up to expectations but he is more relaxed about the opportunity at the Dragons, where Hunt is captain and halfback as well as the Queensland and Australian hooker.

“Anywhere he plays on the field, he does a good job and he’s our halfback at the club, but when he plays rep footy he plays nine and he does a really good job there so I will definitely be talking to him about a few things,” Flanagan said.

“Just having him running out on the field in front of you and leading the boys around is invaluable.

“It's hard to explain, but it definitely feels so refreshing coming to the Dragons and I'm just going to play my role.

“I definitely feel the weight off my shoulders. It's not about me here at the Dragons. I'm looking just to play my role at the club. And wherever I fit in, I fit in. I'm just gonna go about my business like I always do.

"I like to train hard and earn the respect of my teammates through competing each week and every training session, and I've been really enjoying getting to know my new teammates and a new group of people.”

The opportunity to play under his father again is an added bonus after fearing he wouldn't get another chance following Shane's departure from the Sharks in 2019 and suspension by the NRL.

Shane Flanagan has previously coached son Kyle in just one NRL match
Shane Flanagan has previously coached son Kyle in just one NRL match ©Dragons media

However, Flanagan insists he isn't at the Dragons for sentimental reasons and both he and Shane have the goal of wanting to help the club to their first premiership since 2010. 

"When he went through his suspension and I was at another club, I never thought that our paths would cross again, so it's quite a nice touch, but that's not the focus of me being at the Dragons," he said.

"My focus is playing my role. And whatever that looks like, I'm going to just compete and do what I've built my career off so far.

"I'm ready for whatever is thrown our way. It's going to be a roller coaster, but we're in for the ride. Our belief has always been hard work will pay you back. And that's sort of my mentality."


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