Jason Saab will make the most of his height in season 2020. Picture: Brett Costello
Jason Saab will make the most of his height in season 2020. Picture: Brett Costello

Dragons high flyer to cash in on NRL rule change

JASON "Super" Saab is able to leap tall defenders in a single bound.

And from next season, there's very little they can do about it.

Saab, 19, is the tallest outside back in the competition at 199cm and about to become one of St George Illawarra's most potent attacking weapons thanks to a change in the tackling-in-mid-air rule.

Watch over 50 sports LIVE on Kayo! Stream to your TV, mobile, tablet or computer. Just $25/month, cancel anytime. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

An attacking player who contests a high ball can now only be tackled once they hit the ground.

It means players like Saab, who is 3cm taller than Sydney Roosters high flyer Daniel Tupou, have a massive advantage when jumping for high balls.

But height isn't the only weapon in Saab's artillery.

Saab made his debut in round 19 and has scored three tries in as many NRL matches.

The Australian Schoolboy has speed to burn and is banking on his elusiveness to protect him from the physicality of NRL football while his teenage frame "fills out".

"It terms of physicality, it's something that comes with playing footy," Saab said.

Jason Saab flies high for the Dragons against South Sydney. Picture: Brett Costello
Jason Saab flies high for the Dragons against South Sydney. Picture: Brett Costello

"Size doesn't matter, you build a callus towards it. You get used to it.

"If you're quick enough you don't have to deal with the contact, you just run away from them … that's what I'm trying to do.

"Sometimes you don't get that option and you have to wear the hits."

Saab weighs 101kg, which is less than the likes of Blake Ferguson, Corey Oates and Maika Sivo.

But his apprenticeship in the Canterbury Cup is the reason why he has resisted the temptation to pile on the pounds prematurely.

Jason Saab is living in the land of the giants. Picture: Boo Bailey
Jason Saab is living in the land of the giants. Picture: Boo Bailey

"I got to experience the contact side of things in reserve grade because that's where you play against grown men,'' Saab said.

"I remember my second game of reserve grade I copped a hit so hard I was vomiting. It was like 'welcome to the big boys'.

"Everyone says I need to fill out but it's not really a pressure thing. I have had the same body since the start of the year and I've got to play first grade this year.

"So I'm just going to grow and fill out naturally. My focus now is more about understanding first grade and what comes with it. The rest will follow."

After featuring for NSW at under-18 and under-20 level, Saab was included in Brad Fittler's Emerging Blues squad.

While Saab has long-term aspirations to represent his state at senior level, he is focused squarely on cementing a backline spot.

The Dragons finished 15th last season and Saab said the players were determined to turn things around.

Changes to pre-season training are proof of that commitment, which Saab said was markedly different to 12 months ago.

"There's a big difference, everything is a lot more intense," he said.

"Even in the gym the boys are getting more of a sweat. They get puffed out.

"The discipline is really there, the field sessions are different. It's not as lenient.

"Recovery is a lot more strict. Even the lunch we eat is a lot more strict.

"It's all about changing something from last year and that's where we have started."

NRL'S TALL TIMBER

Nelson Asofa-Solomona - 200cm (6 ft 7 in)

Jason Saab (6ft 6 in) - 199cm (6 ft 6 in)

Kane Evans - 199cm (6 ft 6 in)

David Klemmer - 198cm (6 ft 6 in)

Shaun Lane - 198cm (6 ft 6 in)

Dylan Napa - 198cm (6 ft 6 in)

Gavin Cooper - 197cm (6 ft 6 in)

Matthew Eisenhuth - 197cm (6 ft 6 in)

Tino Fa'asuamaleaui - 197cm (6 ft 6 in)

Campbell Graham - 197cm (6 ft 6 in)

News Corp Australia


Sneaky syringe, stash lands man in Coast court

Premium Content Sneaky syringe, stash lands man in Coast court

Man appears in magistrates court of string of drug related charges.

Big list: Which sporting groups scored council funding

Premium Content Big list: Which sporting groups scored council funding

Almost $200,000 has been spent on shade, canteens and more