Dragons' Creagh can't wait to be challenged

BEN CREAGH was wondering if he might be a one-game wonder as he trudged from the field following a less than impressive debut on the wing as an 18-year-old against the Warriors in 2003.

But on Wednesday at that same ground, Jubilee Oval, 199 top-grade games later, Creagh was named captain of St George Illawarra.

''I dropped the ball on my first touch and made all the mistakes someone can do in one game,'' Creagh, now 27, said. ''I didn't think I'd play the next week but 'Brownie' [then coach Nathan Brown] showed a bit of faith, and I played in the last five games of the season. You've got to go through those things as an 18- and 19-year-old to learn and get better, and I'm happy I made those mistakes when I was younger.

''I still make mistakes now but I try so hard not to.

''You don't look back on your career but it's probably the first time in the past few days that I have - and thinking of where I came from and making my debut as a kid on the wing.''

The back-rower had eyed the captaincy since Ben Hornby's retirement at the end of last season.

He was told of his appointment by coach Steve Price, who pulled him aside on Saturday before informing the other players. Creagh, a former Junior Kangaroos captain, likened the effect of the conversation to receiving a State of Origin call-up.

''He told me that he made his mind up,'' Creagh said. ''I started to get butterflies in my stomach and a bit nervous about the unknown and what the future holds.

''When Benny retired I thought there were a few candidates so I didn't know what way 'Pricey' was going to go.

''It's something that I have always hoped to do … that is going to be a challenge but I see it as an opportunity to be successful.''

Veterans Matt Cooper and Nathan Fien join Dan Hunt, Jamie Soward, Michael Weyman, Brett Morris and Jason Nightingale in the leadership group.

Premiership-winning captain Hornby said the choice of his successor was an obvious one.

''There's not a more genuine bloke in the team, and that's what people want to follow,'' Hornby said. ''He has always been fairly mature for his age.

''Trying to keep an even keel for me at some stages was a problem but I think any time you are captain it's more about pushing yourself and making sure that the other blokes are doing the right things.

''Our club is high profile and you're expected to do well, but I think Benny will be fine with that.''

Creagh's toughest task will be leading the Dragons back into the top eight. Last season they missed out on a finals spot for the first time since 2007.

''Everyone was disappointed with how we finished this year,'' he said. ''We've learnt from last season, and we've implemented a few changes.''

Meanwhile, Price said that while he had no doubt Wallaby Quade Cooper could switch successfully to rugby league, he had not contacted his manager.

''He is an outstanding rugby player, and would make a great fist in rugby league,'' Price said. ''I'm very happy with the halves we have but never say never. I think he'd make a good fist at fullback, in the halves or centre. Those type of players are very rare.''

The story Dragons' Creagh can't wait to be challenged first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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