Key Dragons trio Shaun Timmins, Mark Gasnier and Lance Thompson pledged their loyalty and commitment to the club today, announcing they have re-signed for three years.
Dragons Chief Executive Officer Peter Doust said the club was absolutely thrilled that players of this calibre had committed to the club until 2006.
“All three have been complex negotiations for different reasons - that is why it has taken awhile,” said Doust
“They are all key signings for the Dragons … with Thompson's passion and experience; Timmins' experience and representative class; and Gasnier's youthfulness and immense talent.
“And they are all local juniors.”
Timmins, 26, will become a 10-year player with the Dragons in 2004 and his re-signing for three years until 2006 has repaid the faith shown to him by the club when he missed the 2001 season and part of season 2002 with a knee injury that almost ended his career.
“We stuck by Shaun, now he is sticking by us until 2006, which is fantastic news,” said Doust.
Doust said Gasnier, 22, who is considered one of the most exciting prospects in the game, knocked back what certainly was a lucrative offer to “fulfill his destiny as a local St George junior” and continue with the club until 2006.
“Mark is destined for a great career and we are pleased it is going to be with the Dragons,” said Doust. “Unfortunately for Mark, he has been dogged by injury this season, but no one doubts he has a great future ahead of him and he is a vital asset in the club's quest for the Telstra Premiership.”
Thompson, 25, has extended his contract for 2004 out to 2006 in order to achieve 10-year status with the club.
“No doubt, Lance has contributed to the club, ensuring key players remain Dragons,” said Doust. “Every one who knows Lance, knows how passionate he is about the Dragons and his unselfish attitude towards his new contract further emphasises that.”
All three players are excited about their re-signings and what it promises for the future of the Dragons.
Gasnier said that while the Wigan offer was tempting, there were many reasons to stay with the Dragons.
“There were a lot of factors which influenced me to stay, particularly having played in the area as a junior,” Gasnier said. “Also I like where the club is heading and I want to be part of that.
“It's good to have the contract finalised. My main concern was the impact all the talk about whether I was staying or going was having on my team-mates, the staff and fans.”
Timmins said he was always confident of re-signing with the Dragons.
“My first priority was to stay with the Dragons - I want to be a one-club person,” Timmins said. “The club has always been good to me and I think I have repaid their faith and support.”
Thompson said he too had no doubt that he wanted to play all of his career with the Dragons and had no hesitation in doing what he thought was in the club's best interests regarding his contract.
“I just love it - the fans, the grounds, the tradition. I've just never wanted to play anywhere else,” Thompson said. “Exciting times are ahead for the Dragons with the players who have committed to the club over the next few years.”
Negotiations are continuing with winger Nathan Blacklock. The club has made an offer which is presently under consideration.