St George Illawarra players to face six ex-Dragons when they play Newcastle Knights in NRL opener Big switch: Darius Boyd is one of six former Dragon players now with the Knights. The players and coaching staff the Knights have acquired from the Dragons. THEY are the Newcastle Dragons - six players, one legendary coach and three coaching staff members who dumped the famous Red V for the Newcastle Knights. Mining billionaire Nathan Tinkler did not just pinch Wayne Bennett, the Dragons' first premiership-winning coach in 31 years, but his club has also secured six players from St George Illawarra - Darius Boyd, Adam Cuthbertson, Neville Costigan, Alex McKinnon, Wes Naiqama and Chris Houston. And the selection of all six for Newcastle gives Thursday night's season-opening blockbuster at Hunter Stadium a lively edge. Newcastle would have outlayed more than $2 million over time to lure the players from Saints. Bennett and his six players were at St George Illawarra for a combined total of 257 NRL games. But that's not all. Newcastle also lured Dragons coaching staff David Ballard (strength and conditioning), Scott Barker (performance analyst) and Jeremy Hickmans (performance director). "It is ironic that they meet in round one," Newcastle's 2001 premiership-winning coach Michael Hagan said. "They will enjoy playing against their old side, no doubt. A lot of players like to get these games out of the way as early in the season as possible. "It will be strange for Darius, Wayne and Adam Cuthbertson, given they had so much success at Saints in recent years." Boyd will line up at fullback on Thursday night, alongside Naiqama (centre), Cuthbertson (prop), Houston (second-row), Costigan (lock) and McKinnon (bench). Boyd, Cuthbertson and McKinnon will be making their Knights debut. The Bulldogs have been dubbed the Canterbury Sea Eagles because of a Belmore raid on Manly's coaching staff, including head coach Des Hasler. In yesterday's The Sunday Telegraph, Boyd said having so many ex-Dragons at Newcastle would be an advantage. "They will know a few things that we do and we will know a few things about them," Boyd said. St George Illawarra will also be aware of Bennett's coaching style, his tactics and how Boyd will play from fullback. Dragons coach Steve Price will name his side tomorrow. Newcastle return to training this morning. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sp...ts-in-nrl-opener/story-e6frexnr-1226281948366 It'd ridiculous how they're talking about Wes & Houston in this. Houston in particular. They've both been here for years now & well & truly are Knights more than Dragons, & not part of any Tinkler plan to 'steal the Dragons players'