Back-up: Kyle Stanley visits St George Hospital. Photo: Jane DysonUltimate League: Click here to sign up for our Fantasy NRL game
If four knee reconstructions weren’t enough for Kyle Stanley to battle through, the St George Illawarra utility heads into this year off contract and playing a new position.
Stanley will take over as the Dragons’ bench utility this year and has emerged as the back-up hooker option to regular first-team rake Mitch Rein after impressing in the pre-season. The move will mark another positional shift for Stanley who has spent time in every back-line spot except wing since making his debut in 2010 – including being earmarked to replace Darius Boyd at fullback in 2012.
Stanley has played in two trials this year as he continues his return from another knee reconstruction after missing all of last season when he slipped on a wet surface at home. ”I sort of am over [talking about injuries] but what else can you talk about with me?” Stanley said. ”I just really hope everything is in the past and I get a real clear run this year and hopefully I’ll play through the whole season.
”It’s been 50/50 where I’ve trained this year. I started at hooker and then I went to the halves and then back to hooker.”
Despite being a natural half, Stanley will fill the utility position which retired Nathan Fien filled in recent years. Sam Williams will get first crack at the No.7 jersey and will partner Gareth Widdop in the halves when St George Illawarra host South Sydney in the annual Charity Shield on Saturday.
Stanley said playing off the bench would help him re-adjust to the speed of the NRL. ”I think it’s a good start for me instead of thrusting me back in the halves,” he said. ”It’s a stepping stone coming off the bench and not playing the full 80. I need to get some minutes into my knees.”
Meanwhile, Gerard Beale has been ruled out with a jaw injury, replaced by Charly Runciman.
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