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St George Illawarra Dragons, Tyrell Sloan, Jayden Sullivan, Anthony Griffin, Jamie Soward, Wendell Sailor, Mick Ennis, Fox League Podcast, 2023

The Dragons have called on young guns Jayden Sullivan and Tyrell Sloan to leave the club amid a lack of minutes.

Rugby league icon and former St George Illawarra star Wendell Saylor has slammed coach Anthony Griffin for using Sullivan and Sloan this season.

The pair have played just six games apiece, with the latter starting the first three games of the season but not featuring much since then, and was ruled out on game day last Sunday.

The sailor accused Griffin of being “unbelievable” in his 20s, while NRL champion Michael Ennis said he “felt sorry” for Sloan, who looked like a “shadow of himself”.

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But Jamie Soward – who won the Premier League with the Dragons and is coaching the club’s 5 supporters this season – hit back on the Fox League podcast.

“With all due respect to those two guys, they’re not on the inside and they understand what we’re trying to do with our younger guys. You can’t just throw them to the wolves, they have to be ready,” Soward said.

“Bud (Sullivan) has had a couple of hamstring injuries the last couple of years, he didn’t play much football last year with the blister.

“There wasn’t a reserve class (last year) and this is a kid who doesn’t have a lot of legs behind him and we’re trying to say, ‘Go out and play first class.’

“When I played at the Roosters I played 24 games in two and a half years off the bench, there was no rush to get me in, I still had to learn what 80 minutes of football was like.

“He’s played a bit of footy about Sloane and he’s still got things to work on. He’s still transitioning, he spent most of his career as a fullback and then he got adjusted to the wing and then he had to come in and be a fullback.

The Dragons were fired upon for not playing their young guns. GettySource: Getty Images

“It’s a high-pressure situation, those lads are very talented, we’re working hard with them and those who aren’t involved in the inner sanctity of what we’re doing have to come out and leave the club or we’re not giving us a chance. They are not watching or working with them closely, or they understand that we are trying to build their confidence and understanding of what it takes to be a first grader.

“I have no doubt that both guys will be Dragon players for a while and play a lot of games.”

Soward believes Panthers star Nathan Curry has “changed the goalposts” for young players.

Clay, 24, burst onto the scene as a teenager in 2016 and made his NRL debut against Soward at Penrith.

Just two years later and Cleary was playing for the NSW Blues. The classy halfback has led Penrith to the last two grand finals and won the Premier League last season.

“I played in Nathan Creary’s first game, which was my last game, which was a long time ago in 2016, but he’s a special player and he moved the goalposts,” Soward said.

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He is very competitive but well organized and a very good professional at such a young age that everyone either wants their son to be like that or the fans expect him to be the next Nathan Curry.

If you’re in Penrith to have that luxury, it’s fine but all clubs are looking for that.

“It took me a while to learn to play first grade and a true footy understands that 80 minutes is a long time in rugby league.

You have to learn how to prepare and do all the right things from foot to foot to be able to go out and perform.

“You wait a lifetime to play a game, that’s not the hard part. The difficult part is the second, third, fourth and fifth.

James Graham, who worked for the Dragons this season, echoed his sentiments, saying Cleary had created “unrealistic” expectations for the next generation of talent.

“Nathan Creary is such a consistent player but he’s got a really good team on and off the field,” Graham told foxsports.com.au.

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“I really like Jayden Sullivan and (Talathau) Amon at the Dragons, we know what they can do but they are still very young and have a lot of work ahead of them.

“They’re still learning and we’re yet to see the best of them and I think watching their performance, especially Jayden Sullivan, is very impressive with his mindset and execution and he’s only going to improve with that mindset.

“I think we’ll see him reach his potential because he’s willing to work on things that aren’t as strong as others in the game. We haven’t seen much of Sullivan this year but I think the future is very bright for him.

“Sloan, too, just needs to be a little more patient. Hard as it is, it’s what has to happen.”

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