Dragons dream of 10-year coach to replace Griffin

·3-min read
Scott Radford-Chisholm/AAP PHOTOS

St George Illawarra want to find a coach who can lead the NRL club for the next decade and take full advantage of their juniors pathways, as they ramp up their bid to replace Anthony Griffin.

Hours after telling Griffin he had coached his last NRL game for the club, Dragons bosses fronted a previously-planned members' forum in Wollongong on Tuesday night.

Amid a 90-minute grilling from fans, chief executive Ryan Webb and football boss Ben Haran both assured supporters halfback Ben Hunt would not be going anywhere.

Most questions centred around how the club could be turned around after the team achieved just one NRL finals appearance in the last seven years despite its burgeoning junior talent.

Talks are set to ramp up with Jason Ryles, while Ben Hornby and Dean Young remain the other options to be appointed within weeks as head coach from next year.

The three contenders all came through the club's player pathways system, and played in an era of greater stability at the club.

"It's about doing our due diligence, it's about identifying someone that is not going to be there just for a couple of years," chairman Andrew Lancaster said.

"Someone who is going to be there for the short, medium and long-term success.

"It would be great to have the same coach in 10 years time. That is the aim. Being rushed into making that decision is not what we are about."

Lancaster told fans that his board had to accept accountability for the team's failure to make the finals in their time under Griffin.

"In terms of accountability. We are all accountable," Lancaster said.

"We win as a club and lose as a club. The board oversees the future success and viability of the club, we take it very seriously."

Part of the new coach's charter will be to foster the junior talent at the Dragons.

Tyrell Sloan, Jayden Sullivan, Talatau Amone, Toby Couchman and Max and Mat Feagai all debuted under Griffin, and the club is confident there is more talent to come.

The Dragons are adamant Griffin did not fail them in that department, and insist that in years to come fans will be happy with the way he blooded young talent.

But retaining and ensuring that talent thrives will be crucial for his replacement.

"One of the advantages we have over other clubs is our region and junior players," Haran said.

"We have a real focus on making sure this group of young players coming through is ensuring we retain them to the club.

"If we can retain the best young talent over the next five years and look after our nursery better than we have going forward, and then recruit off the style of play the coach wants, that's an advantage we have over other clubs."

Webb also revealed Jack Bird was "disciplined" over comments made while defending Griffin last week in which he suggested fans had no idea about football.