Pambula product Aitken signs on dotted line with Dragons
The Dragons have moved to head off any bid to poach young gun Euan Aitken by extending the 19-year-old's contract until the end of 2017.
Aitken made his NRL debut in the Dragons dramatic 22-20 win over the Raiders on Saturday, topping the hit-ups and metres gained column in a standout performance.
It's welcome news for Dragons fans who've watched fellow junior standouts Jackson Hastings and Jack Bird leave the club in the past two years.
The Dragons' recruitment and retention policy was one of the major issues highlighted in the #Save Our Saints campaign launched by Dragons fans before the Raiders match.
The retention of the club's brightest young star is a welcome boost ahead of the club's first match of the year in Wollongong against Manly on Saturday.
"It's exciting news and I'm really happy to be part of the Dragons team for two more years," Aitken said.
"It's every player's dream to play first grade and having the chance to do just that over the weekend against the Raiders was a great experience. I've been here through all my juniors and I'm really happy to re-sign. I think there's a good opportunity for me here and I'm really looking forward to the next two years."
It caps a quick rise for the Pambula product who only joined the full-time squad this year after picking up the club's NYC Player of the Year gong in 2014. He's also made a seamless shift to the left edge after spending the bulk of his junior career on the right.
"Last year I played the whole season on the right side and now I'm playing on the left," Aitken said.
"I wanted to work on that part of my game and be multi-skilled player who can play both edges and I feel I've done that.
"I've got a good relationship with Mary [coach Paul McGregor] so it's easy to learn under him. We talk a lot and he lets me know where I stand, which is what you want from a coach.
"I've worked hard through pre-season against the men that play NRL week in, week out and I've aspired to do that myself. I've taken the [debut] game as a little stepping stone and I'm only going to get better and improve from here."
This article originally appeared in the Illawarra Mercury on 23/3/2015