Gorden Tallis' brutal truth bomb for Dragons amid Anthony Griffin furore

The NRL legend has launched a hand grenade at his embattled former club.

Pictured right is NRL legend Gorden Tallis and Dragons coach Anthony Griffin on the left.
Gorden Tallis (R) has leapt to the defence of Dragons coach Anthony Griffin amid the dramas at the NRL club. Pic: Getty

Gorden Tallis has launched a scathing attack on players and powerbrokers at the St George-Illawarra Dragons, insisting the embattled NRL club needs a "full clean-out". The Dragons started their season with a win over Gold Coast but have conceded a combined 80 points in worrying defeats against Brisbane and Cronulla in their last two matches.

Pressure has once again mounted on under-siege coach Anthony Griffin, who also found his future at the Dragons under question during a disappointing season in 2022. Reports emerged last week that Dragons powerbrokers have been sounding out alternative coaching options and have asked Griffin - whose contract runs out at the end of this season - to reapply for the job if he wants to remain in the hot seat.

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The mirky situation with Griffin at the Dragons has left St George and Broncos legend Tallis fuming. Discussing the dramas around his former club on the Footy Talk podcast, the three-time premiership winner says the players and board - rather than Griffin - were more to blame for the club's struggles.

“How many coaches do the Dragons have to have before the blame gets put onto the players?" Tallis fumed. “That’s the new graveyard for coaches right there.

“Why would anyone take that gig? The inmates are running the asylum. They missed 32 tackles in the second half (against the Sharks). That’s not on the coaches, that’s not on the game plan, that’s on the players.”

The 214-game NRL great also reserved plenty of criticism for the Dragons board and their recent history of hiring and firing coaches. Tallis described the club as a "fractured organisation" and said the issues at board level had filtered down into the playing group. He claims there have been "divisions" at the proud NRL club for "a long, long time".

“Off the field it looks like a fractured organisation, there’s no leadership,” he added. “They keep on changing the coaches but nothing changes.

“I think they need a full clean-out (in the front office) and get some other people in there with some new direction. There’s a division in the club and it’s been there for a long time. I know it’s been there for a long, long time.”

Seen here, Dragons coach Anthony Griffin before an NRL pre-season game.
Dragons coach Anthony Griffin is under fire after a poor start to the NRL season. Pic: Getty

Anthony Griffin future could be decided over next month

Tallis' withering spray for the Dragons comes amid reports from veteran Daily Telegraph league reporter Phil Rothfield, that Griffin has just five games - starting with Saturday's match against the Dolphins - to save his NRL coaching career. “Sadly Anthony Griffin, who is fighting for his career at St George Illawarra, was on the wrong end of the scoreboard,” Rothfield said on Big Sports Breakfast about the loss to Cronulla.

Rothfield compared Griffin's situation to that of Newcastle mentor Adam O'Brien, who also went into 2023 as one of the coaches under the most pressure. He said the contrasting results for both teams in round four (where Newcastle scored an impressive 24-14 win over Canberra) was a classic "tale of two coaches".

“What the Knights did.... against the Raiders and their unbelievably courageous win over the Wests Tigers the day Ponga went off early I think you can see a football team in Newcastle that are deadset playing for their coach," Rothfield added. "No Ponga, their $1.5 million superstar, and they’re still getting the job done.

“Then you go to Anthony Griffin and you look at the last two weeks against the Broncos and Cronulla and they’ve conceded 80 points in two games. I’m highly critical of this St George-Illawarra management and letting it be known last week, so early in the season that they’re already about to start interviewing other coaches for the job.

“I’ve looked at the St George-Illawarra draw for the next six weeks… and if they can play like we know they can, they’ve got the Dolphins next week without Sean O’Sullivan and (Felise) Kaufusi, arguably their two best players. They’ve then got the Titans, Raiders, Roosters, Bulldogs and Wests Tigers, so there’s five winnable games in the next six weeks.”

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