Dragons star Cameron McInnes has broken his silence after dropping the bombshell news he would be leaving the club at the end of the season.
The 27-year-old St George Illawarra skipper is set to leave the club at the end of the season to join the Sharks on a four-year deal, said to be worth $2.4 million.
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McInnes has been the best player at the Dragons for the past two seasons but has not been offered a contract by the club beyond the end of 2021.
It’s a move that angered fans at a club that has been struggling for a number of seasons.
But 24 hours later, McInnes has revealed “it wasn’t an easy decision to leave” but he looked elsewhere after failing to agree to terms with the Dragons.
He also said it was “less awkward” now having spoken to new coach Anthony Griffin on Tuesday to clear the air.
“I think the Dragons made a statement yesterday that sums it up best that we had different time frames in terms of a deal,” McInnes told The Big Sports Breakfast.
“I was pretty keen to get it sorted well before the season kicked off, where as understandably the club is going through a transition period and they need a little bit longer.
“It is unfortunate how it has worked out but I am really grateful to the club for being respectful and honest to me throughout the whole process and working with me.”
McInnes also responded to claims he was at odds with coach Griffin.
The hooker claimed it was his closeness to former coach Paul McGregor that could have started the conjecture around his relationship with the new coach.
“I was upset when Mary left because I am so close to him, but I understood a change needed to happen,” he added.
“But I’ve really enjoyed working with Hook and this is only my fourth week back after Christmas, so that was probably part of it, that I didn’t get too meet too much with him before Christmas and build that relationship.
“To hear those things is disappointing because it is almost like you can’t show loyalty to someone and then not have a relationship with someone else, so that’s the hardest part of it.”
Dragons part with McInnes
The Dragons acknowledged the club couldn’t meet McInnes’ deadline when it came to negotiating a contract.
“We were well aware throughout our discussions with Cameron and his management that he wanted his future sorted prior to the season commencement,” Dragons general manager of football Ben Haran said.
“There's always a process to contractual negotiations, but with our club going through a significant transition it's fair to say that Cameron and the club were working on different time frames.
“We understood why he wanted his future sorted immediately, which has since led to Cameron and his family securing an opportunity elsewhere.
“Cameron is a quality player and person who has brought a lot to St George Illawarra since arriving in 2017, and we're looking forward to him again playing a huge role in his final season at the club.”
The Dragons have been linked for some time with a swoop for Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough, who has worked with Griffin in the past.
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