NRL 2023: St. George Illawarra’s Tyrell Sloan should be the next big thing

Webb guaranteed nothing to Sloan or Sullivan, who was also asking for his own release to join the Bulldogs.

“There’s a place for you, but nothing is forgiven,” Webb told Sloan and Sullivan. “You have to fight for your places.”

It was a bold call at a time when managers can put a gun to a club’s head and write their client’s name on a team sheet before the coach does.

Last Sunday night, the Dragons’ first game of the year, late in the first half Sloan took the ball off the dummy half and scorched across the turf, trailing Titans defenders like million-dollar David Fifita. It was breathtaking. Jacob Liddle hit under the post seconds later.

After a miserable 2022 in which he went back and forth on the NRL side and wasn’t on the same page as coach Anthony Griffin, Sloan finally smiled.

“Young 18 and 19 year olds come through and they show little glimpses of their excellence with a good play or two and everyone’s excited, the media and the fans are saying they’re the next big thing,” explains the Dragons captain Ben Hunt says ahead of his team’s clash with the undefeated Broncos on Saturday night. “They say, ‘He’s going to be Sonny Bill or Benji Marshall.'”

Sloan has been compared to ex-Cronulla full-back David Peachey.

“I think it really bloats her and puts too many expectations on her when things don’t go according to plan,” says Hunt. “Everything can change very quickly with them. It’s really unfair. They want to play against these guys, but I can understand the coaching staff really wanting to develop them. You don’t want to throw them to the wolves right away. It’s a real balancing act.”

Sloan’s NRL career could be a reflection of his life being raised by his grandmother Colleen, who presented him with his debut jersey in 2021. Sloan’s father was only 16 when he was born, and Colleen took custody of Tyrell and his older brother, Ash.

“It was hard to watch last year,” said Sloan’s teammate Moses Mbye, who has mentored the 20-year-old. “Without going into too much detail, he’s never been given anything in his life. He has to earn everything he has. That will pay him back in cash.

“He said that publicly, he just looked in the mirror and probably realized at some point that he was kicking rocks. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of maturity [to admit to that]. It really reflects the kind of person he is.

Latrell Mitchell and Tyrell Sloan hug after Charity Shield 2023.Credit:Fox sports

“Now he’s my son’s favorite player. He comes over for promos for me.”

The sight of Sloan being comforted by Latrell Mitchell on the field after the Dragons’ charity shield was humiliated at the hands of the Rabbitohs gave a glimpse of the pressure involved in trying to make it in the NRL.


But it also showed how comfortable Sloan is in the company of his Indigenous All-Stars teammates like Mitchell and his brother Shaquai and Nicho Hynes. Asked about his All-Stars experience, the Wiradjuri man signs off with “I’m proud to be Aboriginal”.

“Even though you might think he’s matured over the past 12 months, I think he’s always kept a cool head when spoken to and he’s matured beyond his years,” said the Indigenous All- Stars coach Ronnie Griffiths.

“The good guys, things just happen around them on the field. They show up at the right place and have great anticipation. His movements are effortless and you just know when he’s on the field things are going to happen around him because he puts himself in that position.

“I have no doubt he learned some lessons from it [our camps] to perfect his own craft. He is a beautiful person.” NRL 2023: St. George Illawarra’s Tyrell Sloan should be the next big thing

Ryan Sederquist

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