Dragons bosses aim to save 2023 by sacking Griffin

·3-min read

St George Illawarra bosses insist they can still salvage something out of 2023, with the decision to immediately sack Anthony Griffin aimed at trying to save their season.

Griffin was told by Dragons officials on Tuesday morning his time was up, and that he would not see out the final year of his contract after a six-match losing streak.

Ryan Carr will take over in the interim, with the Dragons assistant having previously served as an attacking coach at Parramatta and head coach in England.

Jason Ryles remains the primary target to take over as coach next year, with fellow former Dragon Ben Hornby another option alongside Dean Young.

Off-contract at the end of this year, Griffin had always been long odds to retain his job for 2024 after the board told him in March they were weighing up their options.

But ultimately the run of losses and a 2-8 record prompted his contract to be severed with five and a half months still to run, with the board fearing this year was going to waste.

"We're hoping to get better results out of them for 2023," club CEO Ryan Webb told AAP.

"When the process started looking for 2024, Anthony was one of the names. His interview was the results on the field.

"That's the position we started with. We had to see who else was out there alongside him. Ultimately the results of the past six weeks haven't been there.

"The board's decision is we want to see what we can do this year. We think we have some better results in us now, so they wanted to go with the change."

Griffin arrived for work at the Dragons' headquarters at Wollongong early on Tuesday, but left shortly after when asked to meet with Webb and chairman Andrew Lancaster.

By that point a decision had already been made, with directors agreeing on Monday night to cut the coach loose ahead of Tuesday's board meeting.

It ends a turbulent two and a half years at the helm.

The club won 22 of 57 games under Griffin 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.

Both eventually stayed, but Griffin's decision to bench halfback Sullivan for most of Saturday night's 42-22 loss to North Queensland raised eyebrows.

Griffin's chances of claiming another head coaching job in the short term now appear slim.

"This is someone's livelihood. It's sad to see," Dragons forward Jack de Belin said.

"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."

De Belin said he could understand fan fury at the club, with bosses set to meet with members on Tuesday night.

"Dragons fans are very passionate, loud supporters and we haven't given them the results they deserve," he said.

"It'd be very frustrating to be a Dragons supporter, no doubt."