Might be awkward around Flanagan family dinner table but Kyle happy for Shane to chase Dearden

Kyle Flanagan has backed St George Illawarra’s pursuit of Tom Dearden and says he hopes Ben Hunt stays at the club, even if it costs him a spot in the Dragons halves.

Flanagan is now two weeks into his first pre-season in Wollongong under father Shane, after going uncontracted at Canterbury at the end of last season.

The 25-year-old is expected to start 2024 at five-eighth alongside Ben Hunt, with Talatau Amone stood down after being found guilty of assault.

But there is an even greater lingering uncertainty about the Dragons halves.

The club have knocked back requests from Hunt to be released from the final two years of his contract, while Shane Flanagan told AAP this week he was keen to sign off-contract North Queensland playmaker Dearden.

???? Kyle is keen! Welcome to the #RedV???? #breathefire #preszn pic.twitter.com/AAI15AMliu

— St George Illawarra Dragons (@NRL_Dragons) November 12, 2023

All of which, could threaten Kyle Flanagan’s first-grade spot.

“When I was probably coming into first grade at 19 or 20, I would probably be thinking ‘what’s going on here, I don’t want this’,” he said.

“But I’m at a stage in my career where I want these players to come to our club and fighting for spots. You want to be part of good footy teams. I’m open to anything like that.”

Flanagan also has the same approach with Hunt’s future, who his father Shane is adamant he can convince to stay with some shrewd recruitment and on-field success.

“I’m at a stage now in my career where I’m not too fussed about what position I play,” Flanagan Jnr said.

“I want good players in my team. If I’m playing off the bench or I’m not even playing, I’m not too fussed.

“I just want to be part of a good organisation and a good footy team that’s winning games.”

Flanagan said he was open to spending time at No.14 or dummy-half, having thanked Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo for seeing a hooker in him.

A high-profile Sydney Roosters recruit in 2020 and marquee signing at Canterbury in 2021, Flanagan does not have the same pressure on him at the Dragons.

“I definitely feel the weight off my shoulders,” he said.

“It’s not about me here at the Dragons. I’m looking just to play my role at the club.

“And wherever I fit in, I fit in. I’m just gonna go about my business like I always do.”

It’s something his father Shane is also mindful of. “He’s had a tough couple of years,” the coach told AAP. “The Roosters had to make a decision on Luke Keary with Walker or Kyle. And they went with Walker. That happens.

“So he moved on and he’s had a lot of weight on his shoulders at the Bulldogs. They were a club trying to turn it around and a lot of responsibility fell on his shoulders. And when they lost it it was heavy.

“Him coming here, the pressures on everyone not Kyle. He’s the new face, we’re not expecting Kyle to change the world down here.”

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