Souths players see a ready head NRL coach in Hornby

·3-min read

Senior South Sydney players have declared Ben Hornby is ready to be an NRL coach, with the Rabbitohs' assistant emerging as a likely frontrunner to lead St George Illawarra next year.

Already under pressure to keep his job before the start of this season, Anthony Griffin's position as Dragons coach is growing increasingly perilous.

The Dragons have lost five straight, and are in camp on the Gold Coast this week ahead of Saturday's clash with North Queensland.

That match is Griffin's last before the Dragons' next scheduled board meeting, with club powerbrokers set to gather next Tuesday.

Coaching will almost certainly be on the agenda.

The club's roster remains in limbo for next year, with nine players still unsigned amid uncertainty about who will be coach.

The Dragons have already sounded out possible options for 2024, but previously indicated they will not interview until a decision is made on Griffin.

Hornby will be among those in the frame if the Dragons decide to move away from Griffin, as a third year out of the finals threatens.

The Saints are interested in fellow former Dragon Jason Ryles, but a call on his future is likely to be linked to whether Craig Bellamy coaches on in Melbourne.

One possibility remains that Bellamy coaches on next year, allowing Ryles to see out the final year of his contract as Sydney Roosters assistant before the Storm job opens up in 2025.

Dean Young is another option, as are Des Hasler and Shane Flanagan.

Young served as an interim coach at the Dragons in 2020 after Paul McGregor's exit, and has since moved to North Queensland as an assistant.

But Hornby appears a likely option, impressing as attacking coach at South Sydney in the past three seasons.

"I don't want to build him up too much, because I would hate for other clubs like the Dragons to take him," Souths hooker Damien Cook said.

"But could he get the job done? He definitely could. He definitely would be ready for that.

"He came in as a great coach and great attacking coach, and he just continues to get better and better at what he does.

"He has a great point of view with everything, and is very up-to-date with the game and how it is changing."

Rabbitohs captain Cameron Murray also backed Hornby's credentials.

"He is consistent, well-liked among the group," Murray said.

"He fit right in here as soon as he came here. He has done a wonderful job, particularly with our attack."

The Dragons' other decision is whether to keep Griffin for the rest of this season, if they do decide to go elsewhere for 2024.

Ryan Carr would be the likely assistant to step up and serve as an interim coach if needed, having sat alongside Griffin in the coaching box this year.

Carr has previously worked at Parramatta, before moving to head up the Dragons' attack this year.