St George Illawarra have reportedly convinced young guns Tyrell Sloan and Jayden Sullivan to stay at the club by assuring them that Anthony Griffin won't be coach after 2023.
Sloan and Sullivan are both seen as the future of the Dragons but have seen little time in first grade under Griffin's leadership.
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Both players recently requested to be released from their contracts with the club, but have since decided to stay.
On Wednesday, Wide World of Sports reported that Sloan and Sullivan have agreed to stick around after being guaranteed that Griffin won't be coach past next year.
"It will be denied all around, but the club told both kids that 2023 is certain to be Anthony Griffin's last year as head coach of the Dragons," reports 'The Mole'.
"It's well known Griffin is under massive pressure to perform in the final year of his contract next season - but from what was told to Sloan and Sullivan, his papers look to have already been marked."
The Dragons had long indicated they were hesitant to let the 21-year-old Sullivan walk away, even after re-signing halfback Ben Hunt on a new two-year deal until the end of 2025.
Sullivan made his debut for St George Illawarra in 2020, but spent most of last season coming off the bench and playing dummy-half with Hunt starring at halfback.
Hunt's new deal had prompted concerns that Sullivan's path to the No.7 jersey would be blocked, and that he should look elsewhere for that shot.
However the Dragons have told Sullivan they still see him as the long-term option, and there is no reason why can't claim the jersey sooner.
Some have called for Hunt to move to hooker in 2023 so Sullivan can finally get an extended crack in the No.7, with Sullivan reportedly expressing his opposition to playing No.9.
Sloan earlier this week also revealed he had withdrawn his request for a release, after he committed until the end of 2025 earlier this year but played just four games as fullback this season.
The youngster had fallen out of favour with Griffin and was forced to spend the majority of the year in reserve grade, before being brought back into the top side on the wing at the end of the season.
Dragons rocked by off-field dramas
The news comes as a welcome relief to the Dragons, who have had their culture questioned in recent weeks.
Dragons great Matt Cooper slammed his former club last week, claiming there is “no pride in the jersey anymore”.
“It’s disgraceful. It’s terrible, where the club is right now,” Cooper told The Daily Telegraph.
“From 2001-2011 we only missed the finals twice. Since then, we’ve only made them twice.
“Obviously it changed when Wayne Bennett left. It all starts from the top… that’s where the culture comes from.”
The issue came to a head when only three players attended the club's end-of-season awards night, with all but Hunt, Zac Lomax and Michael Molo staying away.
“We had eight or nine players who had World Cup commitments and their absence was understandable. However the other players should have been there. When I played you couldn’t wait to get there," Dragons chairman Craig Young said.
“It’s not like you have to pay for anything. It’s free food and drink. There’s no excuse.
“The culture needs working on, for sure. It will be addressed by the CEO and the football manager.
“We can’t hide from it, we’ve got to address it and we will.”
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