Anthony Griffin axed as Dragons blasted for 'gutless' player media stunt

The Fox League commentator wasn't impressed with how the Dragons handled the decision.

NRL commentator Andrew Voss during broadcast and Anthony Griffin coaching.

Dragons lead officials have been slammed as 'gutless' after players were forced to front the media shortly before the club made the decision to axe coach Anthony Griffin. Griffin was told by Dragons officials on Tuesday morning his time was up, paying the price for a six-match losing streak in the NRL.

Ryan Carr will take over in the interim, with the Dragons assistant having previously served as an attacking coach at Parramatta. Jason Ryles remains the primary target to take over as coach next year, with fellow former Dragon Ben Hornby another option.

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However, the Dragons informed a number of players that they would be fronting the media only moments before Griffin was sacked. Griffin had the support of many players in the squad, which only made the decision more baffling.

NRL commentator Andrew Voss labelled the club's move as 'gutless' for letting the players take the media hit before the board announcement. "What a gutless way to do this. I make no apology for saying that," Voss said on SEN Radio.

"You have your players turning up to work today, you throw them under the buss at 8 o'clock this morning. Where the question is going to be nothing but, what the hell is going on.

"You have Anthony Griffin turn up to do his job today and you send the media down there because we don't want them hanging around our board meeting.

"What an unprofessional way to run your business. I tell you what, get together at 5am this morning and make the decision. Get it done. Don't have your players out on a limb at 5 o'clock this morning. It is a bloody disgrace."

Jack de Belin was one of the players that fronted the media and addressed the situation. "This is someone's livelihood. It's their job, their livelihood," De Belin said.

"It is sad to see. It's very sad, when anyone loses their job regardless of what field or expertise they're in. I have a lot of sympathy in that sense. "A lot of that is on us players. I have a lot of guilt in the sense that I could have done more and probably helped out. It is pretty sad."

Dragons in turmoil after Anthony Griffin saga

The club has been turmoil for quite some time under Griffin's reign, which spilled over last week. Dragons player Jack Bird took aim at the fans threatening a protest when he claimed they 'don't know too much about footy".

This landed Bird in hot water and he apologised after the comments. However, the Dragons were then thumped on the weekend 42-22 and it all but cemented Griffin's exit from the battling club.

Griffin has coached the club for three years, but ultimately, the run of poor performances meant he would not see out the final years of his deal. "These decisions are never taken lightly and on behalf of the club I want to thank Anthony for all his hard work during his time at the Dragons," CEO Ryan Webb said.

"Unfortunately our performances over the first 10 games of this season have not met the club's expectations so it was decided he should finish up his duties this week."

Fans have been fervently calling for a change of coach for some time, despite Griffin receiving the backing from players such as captain Ben Hunt.

Ben Hunt looks on during a NRL game.
Ben Hunt (pictured) often defended Anthony Griffin ahead of his axing. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images) (Ian Hitchcock via Getty Images)

Griffin arrived for work at the Dragons headquarters at Wollongong early on Tuesday, but drove out of the car park shortly after told of his fate. Griffin has endured a turbulent two-and-a-half years at the helm.

The club won 22 of 57 games under him and failed to make the finals in any season, while several players complained of communication issues with the coach. Charged with developing the club's juniors on his arrival, Griffin regularly brought them in and out of first grade and had Tyrell Sloan and Jayden Sullivan request releases at the end of last year.

with AAP

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