Dragons to breathe fire at Mudgee

Despite a slow start to pre-season training, Dragons' captain-coach Mat Stott is adamant the Mudgee club will fire this season.

With less than two weeks before the red and whites' first hit-out of 2013 - the annual Garry Longhurst Memorial Shield against the Windsor Wolves at Glen Willow on February 23 - the Dragons have yet to have a training session where all their senior players have been there.

Last Monday, there were about 30 players at training with a third being from the senior ranks.

On Wednesday, there was a better roll-up with at least 15 seniors.

Although work and family commitments mean some players can't get to training, Stott is hoping numbers can increase between now and the Dragons' first trial.

"Training has been improving each session," Stott said.

"We had about 40 guys there on Wednesday.

"We've had a bit of a slow start with the seniors but we are working flat out with those guys.

"If any new blokes want to have a run they can come to training," he added.

It will be a different looking Mudgee side that takes the field this season with several players having left the club.

Cody Cafe has returned to his junior club Kandos, as has winger Todd Munn.

Last year's premiership-winning players in first division Glenn Kurtz, Ben Thompson and Ray Thorn have also joined the Waratahs.

Akaroa Akaroa has moved on while a knee injury means Jono George will miss the entire season.

The pint-sized lock did the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his left knee late last year in a game of touch football and has since had surgery.

Apart from those set backs, Stott is optimistic for a strong showing in 2013.

"It's full steam ahead for us," Stott said.

"(The match against Windsor) Will be a chance for us to blow the cobwebs out."

This season could be toughest in years with several clubs recruiting well in the off-season.

Orange CYMS welcome back 2010 premiership-winning player Ben McAlpine and NSW Country Seconds winger Ali Beale.

Hawks have recruited CYMS' big gun Terawhiti Cooper and former French international Arty Shead.

Lithgow will be hard to stop as the defending premiers, Cowra have bulked up their forwards and then you've got Oberon who are still riding high following their sensational performance last year.

Blayney is an unknown entity, and the two Bathurst clubs - St Pat's and Panthers - could pull anything out a hat when they want to.

Mudgee's first match of the new season is against Lithgow at Glen Willow on Sunday, April 7.

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