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Gorden Tallis calls out Shane Flanagan act for under-performing Dragons

The new coach's immediate influence on the Dragons has shocked NRL fans.

New Dragons coach Shane Flanagan has been praised for the enormous impact he's had on the NRL side, in such a short period of time. And league great Gorden Tallis has revealed one incredible detail that highlights just how quickly Flanagan has transformed the Dragons, who kicked off their season with an impressive 28-4 win over the Gold Coast Titans.

The Dragons endured a miserable 2023 season after finishing second-last on the ladder. Former Sharks premiership-winning coach Flanagan was brought in this season with the hopes of transforming the fortunes at the proud club - which has played finals footy just twice in the past decade and hasn't finished in the top eight since 2018.

Pictured right is NRL great Gorden Tallis and new Dragons coach Shane Flanagan on left.
Gorden Tallis has singled out an incredible detail that shows how much new coach Shane Flanagan has transformed the Dragons in 2024. Pic: Getty

Flanagan's men looked strong in the pre-season and took that form into the opening round with one of the standout performances. The Dragons looked fit and up for the battle and were praised as much for their steely defence as their flashy attack.

Shane Flanagan oversees incredible Dragons fitness regime

Discussing the match on NRL 360 on Monday night, league great Gordon Tallis touched on an incredible off-season fitness regime from Flanagan that's resulted in his squad shedding a staggering 120kg of combined weight. “He (Flanagan) said his squad had lost over 120kg in the off-season, so that is how hard they trained,” Tallis said. “That is without putting on the muscle, so I think there was 20 positive kilos there, but that means they have trained really hard.

“And then the resilience they showed. I think there was about 40 tackles on their own try-line. The Titans didn’t play well. They didn’t attack well. But that is a totally different Dragons side to last year.” NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent agreed that it was evident from just the one game that the Dragons have a distinctly harder edge to them in 2024.

“He has put a lot of steel in them,” Kent said. “Look they trained very hard over the off-season. There were a couple of reports coming out about how hard they did train. He has come out and the thing I like about Flanagan is earlier this year The Daily Telegraph ran a series of interviews with all the coaches.

“And a lot of coaches were very generic in their assessments of their club and what they needed to do to improve as players. Shane Flanagan was very specific about why the Dragons were failing to perform in his eyes. What players were not aiming up. What players needed to really turn their game around.

“He named the players and he said what they were doing wrong and that just put accountability straight away through the joint and that is one of the important things in clubs.”

Raymond Faitala-Mariner impresses on Dragons debut in NRL

The Dragons missed out on some big-money signings in the off-season after chasing the likes of Addin Fonua-Blake and Joey Manu. But one of their new recruits - former Bulldogs forward Raymond Faitala-Mariner - was particularly impressive in the round one win over the Titans.

Seen here, Dragons recruit Raymond Faitala-Mariner in the NRL.
Raymond Faitala-Mariner impressed in his first NRL game for the Dragons. Pic: Getty

“Did you see him on the right side on Saturday night?" Phil Rothfield said. "He destroyed them. All those offloads, tackle busts and linebreaks. I tend to think how has he done that with a player like that?”

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NRL 360 host Braith Anasta said while he didn't want to get too carried away after just one game, the Dragons did 'shock' a lot of critics due to how well they played. Anasta suggested it was particularly impressive because Flanagan achieved it with largely the same side that underperformed in 2023.

“I think they shocked everyone not so much with the win, but the way that they won," Anasta said. “What a start. It shows the pre-season that they have had and already in a short period of time Shane Flanagan has had a huge impact...

“The thing that stands out to me, which I suppose puts Flanagan’s performance even higher is that they don’t have many new players. The team is quite similar to what they have had in the past.”

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