Dragons NRLW: Kelly to form dynamic pairing with Sergis

QUITE THE DUO: Isabelle Kelly and Jess Sergis will form a dynamic centre pairing for the Dragons this NRLW season. Picture: NRL Imagery

QUITE THE DUO: Isabelle Kelly and Jess Sergis will form a dynamic centre pairing for the Dragons this NRLW season. Picture: NRL Imagery

St George Illawarra will unleash plenty of attacking firepower when the NRLW kicks off next weekend, with the club securing the services of star Jillaroos centre Isabelle Kelly for the upcoming season.

It will see her join fellow Test and Origin star Jess Sergis to form the club's most formidable centre pairing since Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper graced the Dragons edges - a celebrated duo that combined for 22 Tests, 25 Origins, 417 games for the Dragons and the breakthrough 2010 premiership.

Sergis and Kelly are building similarly stellar resume having both been crowned Dally M Player of Year while featuring regularly at Test and Origin level.

Dragons skipper Sam Bremner - who'll be making her own return to the NRLW this season - says it's a far more attractive prospect than turning out against either.

"I always try and think how I would feel if I was playing against the team I was in and I definitely wouldn't enjoy having nowhere to run from those two," Bremner said.

"Having Jess and Izzy, they obviously know how score a try but they take on so much more than that. They're both obviously great at what they do but their workload is phenomenal.

"They're not just girls that are able to score tries, it's more so about the pressure they take off our forwards and get that yardage for us."

With Bremner, Kelly and Sergis will likely form an all-Jillaroos back-line with the likes of Maddie Studdon, Keeley Davis, Tiana Penitani and Shak Tungai who have all returned.

Co-captain Kezie Apps will continue to be the linchpin of what's a very different looking forward pack to last season, notably by the addition of veteran Steph Hancock.

The Queensland great boasts an unmatched winning record at all levels of the game, with Bremner saying the hard-nosed prop will be influential by her mere presence.

"She's just someone who absolutely loves rugby league, she oozes passion and she will do absolutely everything in her power to win," Bremner said.

"She's someone you can always trust to leave absolutely nothing on the field. We're very lucky to have someone like that on board. She fits our culture really well being wiling to sacrifice a lot, coming down from Queensland to play for us leaving her family and job behind

"We've got quite a young team and Steph can lead by example, but she just knows how to win. The young girls will learn so much about how to hold yourself and what to do when games get really tough.

"She's played so many games and she know what it takes to win the big games."

Overall the roster features 12 players from the squad's Nines triumph in February.

Bremner said that success will naturally bring confidence ahead of the new campaign, but it's the groundwork laid off the park that could prove most valuable.

"We were hoping to retain all of the players we had for the Nines, not so much because we won, more so how we gelled off the field," Bremner said.

"We were lucky enough to do that and, especially with a short preparation, it's been really good for us to pick up where we left off there.

"It's important to have a tight relationships happening and it's been really beneficial having established that earlier in the year. It gives us great confidence, more through how we've come together.

"It feels like we've been playing together all year."

While it's unquestionably a premiership-ready roster, there's one other addition is a major feather in the club's cap, with Papua New Guinea Orchids captain Elsie Albert becoming the first player from the world's most league-mad nation to be signed to an NRLW contract.

"She'll probably end up Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea after the NRLW," Bremner said.

"It's awesome, that's what it's all about, it's about giving girls opportunities to play rugby league and it defines more than rugby league careers, it can define your life. I'm looking forward to playing alongside her and I'm sure she'll have huge fanbase back home."

FULL DRAGONS NRLW SQUAD: Elsie Albert, Kezie Apps, Shaylee Bent, Teagan Berry, Sam Bremner, Jaime Chapman, Keeley Davis, Jade Etherden, Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa'amausili, Steph Hancock, Talei Holmes, Rikeya Horne, Ellie Johnston, Isabelle Kelly, Mahalia Murphy, Georgia Page, Christine Pauli, Tiana Penitani, Jessica Sergis, Maddie Studdon, Shakiah Tungai, Maddison Weatherall.

This story Kelly to form dynamic Dragons pairing with Sergis first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.