Flanagan mulls swinging axe after dire Dragons display


St George Illawarra players face a nervous wait as coach Shane Flanagan considers axing poor performers after a 38-0 loss to the Dolphins.

The Dragons host undefeated North Queensland on Saturday at Kogarah and will need a much-improved display to compete after a second-half capitulation at Redcliffe on Sunday.

It was such a disappointment for the Dragons after they had started the season with a comprehensive 28-4 win over Gold Coast.

The Dolphins had lost 43-18 the previous week to the Cowboys and coach Wayne Bennett said after the defeat he would not persist with underachievers this year.

Bennett followed through and made key changes after giving his players a month's grace in 2023 in the club's inaugural season.

The Red V have a rich history, but Flanagan - in his first year as head coach at the club - is attempting to reboot an outfit that finished 16th last year and has not reached the finals since 2018.

He was asked if he would follow Bennett's lead and drop players who didn't hit the required mark, after being outplayed in each key area against their opponents.

"It is a good question," Flanagan said.

"At the moment I thought that was the best team we could put on the paddock. (Forward) Hame Sele should be back next week. He will probably come into the team.

"Our second grade played well (in a 30-16 win over Newcastle). We will have a look at it but that wasn't good enough tonight so we might have to make some changes."

The back five for the Dragons worked hard and did not let the side down but the forwards, none of whom ran for 100 metres, were completely outplayed by a rampant Dolphins pack.

"I just told the team that it was the complete opposite to last week, where we had energy and commitment - but today we had none of that," Flanagan said.

"We weren't the better team at halftime (trailing 10-0) but I thought we could come back. The second half we got worse again.

"We still have some work to do and I am really disappointed we have gone backwards.

"We will shake it all off and go again."

Flanagan knows that getting the Dragons to fire won't be a quick-fix.

Based on recent history the prospect of 180 degree flips in their performances was always on the cards.

"But not that quickly, not in a week's time and not so drastic," Flanagan said.

"Today's performance just wasn't good enough for a Dragons jersey.

"We have addressed that and we are going to work really hard, but I am really clear that we are not happy about it."

Fullback Tyrell Sloan can hold his head high.

Sloan had a blinder against the Titans with a hat-trick, and injected himself nicely with two line breaks against the Dolphins, but was outplayed by opposite number Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow who scored a hat-trick of tries.