Illawarra to salute departing Dragons

Dragons legend Ben Hornby will be leaving the side at the end of the season.A capacity crowd of 20,000 is tipped to fill WIN Stadium for Saturday’s farewell for Dragons heroes Ben Hornby and Dean Young.
Nanjing Night Net

Hornby revealed to his peers on Monday night that his 13th season would be his last, even catching team-mates off guard with his announcement.

Young has battled a chronic knee injury and has known for months that Saturday’s game would be his final fling on home turf.

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Given that St George Illawarra finish their season on the road against Parramatta next weekend, the round 25 clash with the Warriors will effectively be the last chance for Wollongong-based Dragons fans to pay their respects and give Hornby and Young the home sendoff they deserve.

Hornby sent a scare through the squad when an ankle injury prevented him from finishing yesterday’s training run.

The 32-year-old former NSW Origin fullback watched the rest of the session with his foot submerged in an ice bucket but remains confident of taking on the Warriors.

Young’s ongoing knee troubles kept him from taking on the Cowboys on Monday night, though he also expects to play this weekend.

The 28-year-old said he was proud to be riding into the sunset with his long-time friend.

‘‘Me and Benny go back a long way, back when I was 16 when I first met him,’’ Young said.

‘‘I was doing weights in Wollongong at quarter past six in the morning before school, and Benny was doing the same thing before he was going off to work. It was a long time ago, and to be retiring with such a good mate, I’m over the moon.

‘‘It’ll be an emotional time for both me and Benny. We’ve given everything to this club over a long period of time. We love the club. It means everything to us, so I’m sure it’ll be emotional for us and our families. But it’s nothing sad. I’ve been playing for 10 years and Benny 12, and we’ve achieved a lot in that time. It’s not really sad. I suppose we’ll be celebrating.

‘‘The knee was pretty sore last week. I was pretty keen to play but it wasn’t the case, so I’m looking forward to this week, especially being at home.

‘‘I’ve got a lot of friends and family coming and so does Benny. Hopefully we can go out and turn on a good performance for the fans that have been turning up all year, even though we haven’t gone as well as we would’ve liked.’’

Out of finals reckoning for the first time since 2007, the Dragons insist they still have plenty to play for.

‘‘I wouldn’t say [the heat’s] off,’’ prop Dan Hunt said. ‘‘You still want to win, and the last two games you’re going to build into next year.

‘‘We’ve put in a lot of effort since the pre-season and haven’t finished the way we wanted to, but the effort’s always been there in all the games. It’s our execution and discipline that’s let us down.

‘‘Obviously Benny’s announcement on Monday night was a bit of a shock, so I think it’ll be a bit emotional. Two of my good mates, two great players finishing up,’’ he said.

‘‘It hasn’t sort of happened since Gaz [Mark Gasnier] and Rylesy [Jason Ryles] left. ‘‘I don’t think [Hornby] spoke to anyone about it. He’s obviously put some thought into it and that’s his decision. You have to respect that and I just hope we can give him the win to send him off.

‘‘I know I’ll be giving 100per cent and I’m sure all the boys will do the same, trying to get the two wins for Benny and Deano.’’

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