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Dragons in talks to sign Raiders prop Tom Learoyd-Lahrs

Tom Learoyd-Lahrs at Raiders training on Wednesday.

Tom Learoyd-Lahrs at Raiders training on Wednesday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Another big-name Canberra Raider could sign with St George Illawarra within weeks, the Dragons investigating the possibility of signing prop Tom Learoyd-Lahrs before the June 30 mid-season transfer deadline. 

Having struggled with injuries and for match time under new coach Ricky Stuart, it is understood Learoyd-Lahrs is resigned to not being at Canberra next season, and has begun the hunt for a new home. 

He has attracted interest from a few clubs but the struggling Dragons are particularly interested. They are desperate to bolster their under-seige forward pack immediately as a season which began so promisingly plunges into freefall. 

Learoyd-Lahrs has a young family and would prefer to stay in Canberra, but the 28-year-old sees the writing on the wall after being overtaken in the Raiders pecking order by young props Shannon Boyd and Kyle O'Donnell. 

The Tamworth product is one of the highest-paid players at the Raiders, and his departure would free up more money as Canberra chases the signature of off-contract Melbourne forward Kevin Proctor. 

The Dragons have an extensive history of recruiting Raiders players, and former Canberra stars Josh Dugan, Joel Thompson, Sam Williams and Bronson Harrison are currently on their books.

It hasn't helped them end their long-running 'hoodoo' against Canberra, the Green Machine winning the last nine games between the two clubs since 2007.

A virtual forward swap is on the cards, with Thompson likely to return to Canberra next year for family reasons, after beginning a three-year deal with the Dragons this season.

Learoyd-Lahrs played four Tests for Australia and four Origins with NSW in 2009 and 2010, but a freakish foot injury restricted him to just eight NRL games last year. 

He suffered a further setback when another ankle injury ruled him out for the opening three rounds this year, and has been languishing in the NSW Cup since. 

Despite boasting one of the NRL's best backlines, St George Illawarra and coach Steve Price have come under heavy fire after dropping six of their last seven games. 

It has been reported Raiders legend and NSW coach Laurie Daley is top of the Dragons coaching wish list, but they will stick by Price until the end of the season. 

The Dragons forward pack has copped the brunt of the criticism, and the experienced Learoyd-Lahrs would add valuable experience and starch. 

It's understood Learoyd-Lahrs firmly believes he still has plenty to offer at the top level, and has been churning out around 60 minutes for Raiders NSW Cup affiliate Mounties in recent weeks. 

He doesn't harbour any animosity toward the Raiders, but is keen to extend his NRL career and is prepared to move to do so. 

Last year's sackings of Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson, plus the departure of Anthony Milford to Brisbane next season, means Canberra has serious salary cap room for 2015. 

But its poor recent form isn't helping attract established big-name starts to the capital. 

The club was rocked further this week when another local junior, centre Matt Allwood, announced he will join New Zealand Warriors on a three-season deal next year. 

Veteran prop Brett White is yet to announce whether he will retire after this year, or play on in 2015. 

14 comments so far

  • How about Doust doing a deal with Furner and swap Thompson for Tom. Thompson is not happy living in Wollongong with his wife now back in Canberra and as Learoyd-Lars is now in the NSW Cup and the Dragons REALLY NEED a BIG prop/front rower it seems like a smart decision.

    Commenter
    saint mike II
    Location
    Kiama Downs
    Date and time
    May 22, 2014, 7:21AM
    • TLL was good for us when he started and I loved watching him terrorise other packs when he ran on the fringe of the ruck. Turning him into a battering ram hitting the centre hurt him and the team. Hope he finds a spot at the Dragons coz I can't see him making a comeback here.

      Commenter
      YS
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      May 22, 2014, 7:57AM
      • Agree, He was an out and out second rower and Furner tried to make Him a prob and distroyed his carrer with injuries... He hasn't been the same for a couple of seasons which is a shame because He had the potential to play many more origins and test matches

        Commenter
        Shogunmatty
        Location
        Reality
        Date and time
        May 22, 2014, 2:19PM
    • We do need big props urgently and maybe we should do a swap immediately. But he is basically a crock so whether we get much game time from him is questionable. We should be targeting Sam Kasiano for starters and of course urgently need a new coach to start last week.

      Commenter
      daffy
      Date and time
      May 22, 2014, 8:58AM
      • Well, Ricky got one thing right at last, in realising Dave Shillington is his best prop. But rating Kyle O'Donnell ahead of Tom is crazy! Saw Tommy run riot against Warriors the other day and if he isn't more damaging (when fit) than the other Raiders props, I've never seen a footballer. Sign him, and get rid of some of the other not-quite-good-enough!

        Commenter
        stuk
        Location
        Corunna
        Date and time
        May 22, 2014, 9:08AM
        • Surely this would be a signing for the Cutters rather than the Dragons.
          Price seems to quite happy with his current "Powder Puff Girls" forward pack who have gone backwards since Craig Young became part of the coaching team.

          Commenter
          Ordinary Bloke
          Date and time
          May 22, 2014, 9:35AM
          • Thats the way get rid of the decent players and keep bludgers like Shillington in the side.

            Commenter
            Mickyb
            Location
            ACT
            Date and time
            May 22, 2014, 11:54AM
            • Sorry to bag a Raiders man RickyB, but you must watch the Green Machine with your back turned, if you think Shillo is a bludger. He may be a little bit like a prop of the past, but look at his stats and his work rate when on the field.

              Commenter
              Brisraider
              Location
              Quuensland
              Date and time
              May 22, 2014, 1:54PM
          • The last thing the Dragons need is another Raiders "has been"!

            As a long time Dragons supporter, id like to see them invest in 2 things, a competant coach and some young up and coming forwards.

            Commenter
            Nate
            Date and time
            May 22, 2014, 2:56PM
            • Teams like the Dragons, Roosters, Manly dont care about "juniours" they wait for the other clubs to produce these young guns and swoop in with a chequ book to steal them away.. its pathetic...

              Commenter
              Shogunmatty
              Location
              Reality
              Date and time
              May 22, 2014, 4:03PM

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