The NRL world has rounded on the Dragons after it emerged the club has informed head coach Anthony Griffin they will be interviewing candidates for next year's coaching job throughout the season. Griffin is out of contract at the end of the season, with the 56-year-old evidently unable to convince the Dragons to keep him on beyond the 2023.
Griffin has yet to be ruled out as coach of the club in future, but the club has reportedly indicated serious interest in Jason Ryles, a former Dragons player and current assistant coach for the Sydney Roosters. The club is also gearing up to make another run at wooing Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy, an attempt they previously made back in 2012.
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Brought on board following the departure of predecessor Paul McGregor, Griffin's tenure has not resulted in the reversal of fortunes fans had been hoping for. In an unfortunate statistic for Griffin, his record of 22 wins from his 53 games as coach is worse than that of McGregor.
Griffin's future was reportedly discussed with him at a club board meeting on Tuesday, with the incumbent coach given the rest of the season to prove he is worth of continuing in the position. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Dragons believe they are being 'transparent' with Griffin in the best interest of the team, rather than interview potential replacements behind his back in secret.
However the Dragons' approach hasn't won the club many fans, with many considering running a search for Griffin's replacement in the background is still 'disrespectful', despite the club informing him of their intention to do so. The Daily Telegraph's David Riccio said it was 'weak leadership', coming just three rounds into the 2023 season.
“There was a board meeting held today, Griffin wasn’t there, but he was told earlier in the pre-season they would be scouring for options,” he said. “The mere fact they told the coach that back then is ludicrous, it’s crazy.
"They had last year to make that call and start this year a fresh. Where is the strategy in recruitment when you have no idea who the coach is?”
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Riccio wasn't alone in his assessment on Fox League, with co-host Paul Kent describing the latest move from the Dragons as a 'kick in the face' to Griffin, adding that the club still wasn't a united front “It’s not quite right… Griffin has been told that they are going to go out to market and start looking at other coaching possibilities,” Kent said.
“It is my understanding that Griffin won’t apply for the job.
“The problem with St George and the problem with the (Wests) Tigers, is both teams more than 20 years into their life cycle now, are still being run as separate entities within their joint ventures.
“Both clubs need to become one club, there’s still basically a St George faction and an Illawarra Steelers faction. There’s like a jealous wariness of each other, one side doesn’t want to spend the money so the other won’t spend the money.
“Because of that they never have any success, they don’t plan, they are never pushing in the same direction together and this type of management is embarrassing.”
The Dragons were thumped 40-18 by the Brisbane Broncos in round three, leaving them 1-1 having had the bye in round one. They'll face the Cronulla Sharks on Sunday afternoon in what shapes as another difficult test for Griffin's men.
The performances of Dragons fullback Tyrell Sloan and five-eighth Jayden Sullivan were strong and will give the Red V the belief they have the young spine members to partner skipper Ben Hunt and challenge for the top eight. The Dragons had more energy, were better disciplined and more aggressive up front in the opening stanza to take a 16-8 lead at halftime.
In particular, bench forwards Josh Kerr, Zane Musgrove and Michael Molo were in powerhouse mode and swamped the Broncos. However it would all come to nought as the Broncos breezed past the visitors in the second half.
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